Contact: Janine Kava, Press Office
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
(518) 457-8906 or (518) 275-5508 – cell
janine.kava@dcjs.ny.gov

For immediate release: Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010

Rome Police receive $35,000 in state grants to enhance its response to domestic violence incidents, investigation of reported burglaries

ROME – The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) has awarded grants totaling $35,000 to the city’s Police Department so it can enhance the way it responds to domestic violence incidents and investigates burglary cases.

DCJS Acting Commissioner Sean M. Byrne today joined with Rome Mayor James F. Brown, Public Safety Commissioner James F. Masucci, Police Chief Kevin C. Beach, Oneida County District Attorney Scott D. McNamara and Assemblywoman RoAnn M. Destito at City Hall to announce the one-time grants: $25,000 to institute a program that sends officers on follow-up visits to homes where they have responded to domestic violence calls and $10,000 to collect DNA evidence at the scene of all reported burglaries.

“Domestic violence and burglary are both serial crimes that can be effectively targeted by the proactive, proven strategies that will be funded through these grants,” Acting Commissioner Byrne said. “These initiatives are designed to not only solve crimes, but to prevent future victimization. Despite the state’s ongoing fiscal crisis, Governor Paterson’s administration remains committed to assisting local law enforcement agencies with their efforts to enhance the safety of their communities.”

Through the follow-up visit program, Rome police will return to homes where they have responded to domestic incident calls, with the ultimate goals of holding offenders accountable, improving investigation and prosecution of cases as appropriate, enhancing victim safety and connecting victims with resources and services. The program is modeled after one successfully implemented by the New York City Police Department.

“With domestic violence, unlike almost every other crime, we know who the victim is going to be, who the perpetrator will be, and more likely where the crime will occur. What we don’t know is when,” Acting Commissioner Byrne said. “This grant will allow the Rome police to proactively check to make sure victims are safe, that perpetrators are keeping their distance if an order of protection is in place and behaving appropriately if there are no orders. We want to hold offenders accountable for their behavior.”

The additional resources available through the burglary initiative grant will allow responding officers or evidence technicians to collect DNA evidence at the scene of every reported burglary. DNA often provides a critical link to solving those crimes, preventing additional break-ins and linking the responsible individual to other crimes. It also can clear individuals of criminal involvement in the early stages of an investigation.

Since the inception of the state’s DNA databank in 1996 through Sept. 30, 2010, at least 1,094 individuals have been convicted of burglary as a result of DNA found at the crime scene. Solving burglaries also solves other crimes: DNA given for convictions to a first-, second-, or third-degree burglary charge has resulted in links to 345 sexual assaults and 65 homicides.

Mayor Brown said: “We are pleased that the state Division of Criminal Justice Services recognizes the extraordinary demands on our resources and is actively helping the city of Rome battle domestic violence and burglary cases. This funding for domestic violence cases will help us take proactive steps to try to ensure the safety of victims of domestic violence. Far too often, the system works against women and children who, the statistics overwhelmingly show, are most often the victims of domestic violence. Additionally, the funding to secure DNA evidence at the scenes of burglaries will enhance our ability to apprehend and prosecute these perpetrators. I applaud the state Division of Criminal Justice Services for their help to make our streets – and most importantly our homes and our residents – safer.”

Commissioner Masucci said: “I am very pleased that the Rome Police Department received this funding from the Division of Criminal Justice Services. These particular grants will allow the Rome Police Department to become more proactive in their investigations into these crimes. Burglaries and Domestic Violence are probably are two of the biggest crime issues in the City of Rome and during these tough economic times, it is gratifying to know that DCJS recognized this and awarded these funds to the City of Rome.”

DCJS targeted the one-time grants to Upstate law enforcement agencies, particularly those that serve smaller cities and suburban towns, as well as suburban and rural counties. The Rome Police Department was the only agency in the Mohawk Valley to receive funding; a total of 18 agencies received the grants, which are funded through the federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program.

In addition to the number of domestic violence incidents, a variety of criteria was used to determine which departments would receive grants to conduct follow-up visits. DCJS selected those agencies with an existing infrastructure in place, such as a dedicated officer and/or a specialized team, to adequately follow up on domestic violence incidents and those that had established relationships with the domestic violence services provider in their community.

In Rome, 69 percent of the simple and aggravated assaults reported as domestic in 2009 involved intimate partners, with women reported as the victim in 81 percent of those cases. 2009 Domestic Violence Victim Data

Burglary grants were awarded to agencies that experienced a 15 percent or more increase in the number of reported break-ins from 2008 to 2009; the agencies receiving the grants had a minimum of 100 reported burglaries last year. Burglaries in Rome increased 41 percent (111 vs. 157) from 2008 to 2009. For the first eight months of 2010 as compared to the same timeframe in 2009, the department has seen a 12 percent increase (101 vs. 113) in burglaries. Index crimes by reporting agency: 2005 – 2009

“New York State has made enormous progress in the fight against crime over the last 20 years, due in part to the smart investment of state resources at the local level, particularly in the state’s urban centers,” Acting Commissioner Byrne added. “These grants allow us to expand those partnerships to smaller jurisdictions that are wrestling with spikes in crime, with the hope that the additional assistance will allow them to successfully address crime patterns before they become crime trends.”

The state Division of Criminal Justice Services is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; operation of the DNA databank and criminal fingerprint files; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry and a toll-free telephone number (1-800-262-3257) that allows anyone to research the status of an offender.

The following statements also were provided in support of these initiatives:

Assemblywoman RoAnn M. Destito (D/WF-Rome): “Many defendants in domestic violence cases are repeat offenders. This program will provide follow-up monitoring and counseling for the residents of households where domestic violence incidents have occurred.  And, it will also help police better collect the evidence that’s often needed to charge people who have committed burglaries.  Since many people who commit burglaries also are involved in drug activity and other crimes, this program will help make Rome a safer community.”

Oneida County District Attorney Scott D. McNamara: “I thank the Division of Criminal Justice Services for their continued support and assistance in addressing our local domestic violence issues. This best practice initiative has proven to be very successful in New York City and we look forward to similar results in Oneida County. We also look forward to implementing this new initiative for collecting DNA at the scene of burglaries.  DNA has proven to be very reliable evidence in proving a person’s involvement in a crime, and DNA testing also gives law enforcement the ability to clear people of criminal involvement at a very early stage of an investigation.”

Rome Police Chief Kevin C. Beach: “The grant funding for the domestic violence initiative will enable our officers to conduct more follow-up investigations to reported domestic violence incidents. This proactive approach will assist victims of domestic violence in receiving services that are available to them, and help prevent them from becoming victims of repeated attacks.  We will also show the perpetrators of these serious crimes that we will not tolerate their actions, and we will be there to protect the victims. The DNA databank is an essential tool for law enforcement agencies to help solve crimes. There is no doubt that our enhanced ability to secure more DNA samples will lead to solving crimes that, without DNA evidence, may not have been solved.”