ALBANY, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — Governor Kathy Hochul announced new state guidance on Tuesday, Oct 24, for law enforcement when responding to domestic incidents. The governor also announced the signing of two new laws related to domestic violence prevention and the securing of $1 million to expand the state’s Red Flag Law.
The state’s new Law Enforcement Domestic Incident Model Policy is aimed at promoting safety for domestic violence victims and law enforcement officers, connecting victims to services and support, and preserving evidence of a crime. The policy addresses changes in law enforcement practices, updates to state laws and ways for law enforcement responses to be more survivor-centered.
“I’m committed to leading an administration that treats survivors with dignity and respect,” Governor Hochul said in a statement. “This is personal to me: my mother was a lifelong advocate for victims of domestic abuse, and our family founded a transitional home for survivors in Western New York. These actions build on my administration’s ongoing commitment to help survivors and provide them with the resources, support and information they need to recover and rebuild.”
The guidance suggests changes to police practices at both the local police and county sheriffs’ level, including:
- Assessing the potential lethality of a victim by asking questions about access to firearms or threats to harm themselves and others, then assessing next steps.
- Determining if it is necessary to obtain an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) and their responsibilities under the law
- Using the individual’s own words when documenting the incident
- Notifying individuals about the availability of legal services to obtain orders of protection and other legal matters
- Understanding the hesitancy of individuals to come forward on incidents, among others.
Along with the new guidance, Governor Hochul also signed two new pieces of legislation into law. The first — known as the “HOPE Card Act,” directs the State Office of Court Administration to develop a program to issue cards to individuals that contain information about final orders of protection. According to the governor, the act will allow survivors of domestic violence to enforce their orders of protection without carrying an official copy. New York is the sixth state to enact such a program.
The second act signed into law requires the State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence to distribute informational materials on economic abuse. Informational materials will include connections to housing resources, local social services offices, and other information to help individuals maintain safety and economic stability.
The governor also announced that she has secured $1 million to further expand the use of the state’s Red Flag Laws. The investment would fund training and technical assistance to community-based organizations to help potential petitioners identify extreme behavior and navigate the court process to further increase use of the law.
“Domestic incidents are among the most common and serious calls agencies receive,” Commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services Rossana Rosado said in a statement. “This comprehensive model policy is designed to provide responding officers with the information, tools, and resources they need to effectively handle these cases. I thank the members of the Municipal Police Training Council and my team at DCJS for their work and commitment to improving policing and how the criminal justice system responds to victims and survivors.”
If you are the victim of domestic violence or abuse, you are encouraged to contact the New York State Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline, which provides free, confidential, 24/7 support. You may contact the hotline via phone at 1-800-942-6906, via text at 844-997-2121 or via online chat at @opdv.ny.gov. Individuals can also contact OVS Resource Connect at the link here to find a victim assistance program in their community.