In the face of a rise in domestic violence during COVID-19, Ulster County District Attorney David Clegg announces the first phase of a County-wide expansion of the Intimate Partner Violence Intervention which will begin today in the Town and Village of Saugerties.
Through a partnership of prosecutors, law enforcement, victim advocates, social service providers and community members, the Intimate Partner Violence Intervention (IPVI) Task Force intervenes early on with intimate partner violence offenders known to the criminal justice system. Developed by the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) at John Jay College, the IPVI protocol aims to prevent further incidents of intimate partner violence by clearly communicating the risks offenders would face if they chose to reoffend. The initiative offers supportive services to offenders and, when necessary, addresses the most dangerous individuals through enforcement actions.
District Attorney David Clegg has been committed to this intervention since taking Office in January 2020. DA Clegg made it a mission of his first year in office to begin expanding to county-wide implementation of IPVI. “Intimate Partner Violence is a pervasive community problem. It is our responsibility to hold accountable persons committing acts of intimate partner violence, to stop the violence and break the intergenerational cycle of abuse” said DA Clegg. “Victim Safety is paramount to the IPVI strategy, which focuses on the offender and aims to prevent any further violence by clearly communicating that the prosecutorial response to further offenses will be swift and certain.”
“During the COVID-19 pandemic we saw an increase in chronic offenders re-offending with heightened violence. In response, we expedited the timeline of our county-wide expansion to support the needs of our community” said Sr. Assistant District Attorney, Elizabeth Culmone-Mills who heads the Intimate Partner Violence Intervention Task Force in Ulster County. “We are eager to expand this collaborative response to the Town and Village of Saugerties.”
The Ulster County District Attorney’s Office and the City of Kingston Police Department began the IPVI initiative in the City of Kingston in January 2017 with the support and guidance of the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) and the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and began implementation on March 6, 2018. Since that time, the City of Kingston has seen a steady reduction in Domestic Incident Reports (DIRs). In March 2020, NNSC reported Kingston experienced a 36% decrease in the numbers of DIRS for classified IPV offenders.
Saugerties Police Department has agreed to join the IPVI task force. The department has made great strides in the awareness and enforcement of domestic violence in the past few years. Saugerties Police Chief Joseph Sinagra had already begun to implement aspects of the IPVI initiative in his department’s response to domestic violence, which made Saugerties a logical fit to begin the first phase of the county-wide expansion.
“One of the approach’s essential elements is the ability to focus on offenders at early stages of offending before violence or patterns of behavior escalate - offering community-based outreach, support, and procedurally just messaging about the potential consequences of continued offending” said Kassondra Seyfert, Project Director of Ulster County’s Intimate Partner Violence Intervention. “We have already been able to see IPVI’s impact in the enhanced communication and collaboration we have seen amongst our partner agencies with the City of Kingston, enabling the task force to respond faster and more effectively than ever before”
“The clearest indicator of our enhanced communication and collaboration was how easily the task force adapted to the rapid changes Ulster County experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic” said ADA Culmone-Mills. “The members of our task force collectively implemented innovative responses to offender accountability and victim support and continued to be committed to the principles of the intervention.”
Ulster County’s Intimate Partner Violence Intervention Task Force is comprised of dedicated members from the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office, Kingston Police Department, Saugerties Police Department, Ulster County Probation Department, Crime Victims Assistance Program, New York State Department of Community Corrections, Family of Woodstock, Ulster County services providers and local community members of the Kingston and Saugerties communities.
National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College (NNSC), under the direction of David Kennedy, supports implementation of strategic interventions designed to decrease violence and improve public safety, minimize arrest and incarceration, strengthen disadvantaged communities and reconcile relationships between law enforcement and the communities it serves. (www.nnscommunities.org)
New Paltz is slated to be the next jurisdiction to begin development in the first phase of the county-wide IPVI expansion by the end of this year.