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, Nov. 10, 2010

Greece Police Department receives state grants to enhance investigation of domestic violence incidents, reported burglaries

Brighton P.D. also receives grant to target reported burglaries

The Greece Police Department will use two grants totaling $35,000 from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to enhance the way it responds to domestic violence incidents and investigates reported burglary cases.

DCJS Acting Commissioner Sean M. Byrne today announced the two 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 through the use of 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, police officers 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, 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 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."

Greece Police Chief Todd Baxter said: "We are hopeful that this DCJS initiative will have a positive effect on our domestic violence rate. The Greece Police Department also expects to uncover secondary crimes as we visit victims and offenders. Domestic violence perpetrators have a propensity toward involvement in other criminal activities such as weapons and drugs."

In 2009, Greece police reported 685 victims of domestic-related aggravated assaults, simple assaults, sex offenses and violation of protective orders; 67 percent of those victims – a total of 463 – involved intimate partners, with women reported as the victim in three-quarters of those cases. An intimate partner is defined as a spouse, ex-spouse, sexual partner or ex-partner, including same-sex partners.

The additional resources available to the Greece police through the burglary grant will allow responding officers or evidence technicians to collect DNA evidence at the scene of every reported burglary. The Brighton Police Department also received the $10,000 burglary grant.

A total of 18 law enforcement agencies received the one-time grants, which are funded through the federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program. DCJS targeted the grants to Upstate agencies that serve smaller cities and suburban towns, as well as suburban and rural counties.

A variety of criteria was used to determine which agencies would receive grants to conduct follow-up visits, including the number of domestic violence incidents, and whether they had an existing infrastructure in place, such as a dedicated officer and/or a specialized team, to adequately follow up on domestic violence incidents, and established relationships with the domestic violence services provider in their community. Each agency will develop its own specific protocols and guidelines for the follow-up visits based on guidelines provided by DCJS – for example, determining which calls will trigger the follow-up – and the grant funds will be used to fund any overtime associated with those visits. Also through the grant, officers from each department will be trained by staff of the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence on how to correctly conduct follow-up visits.

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. Reported burglaries in Greece increased 30 percent from 2008 to 2009 (266 to 345), while they increased 41 percent (123 to 173) in Brighton during the same timeframe.

DNA often provides a critical link to solving burglaries, 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.

Chief Baxter said: "Overwhelmingly, individuals who go on to commit ‘major' crimes almost always have criminal histories that include burglaries and larcenies. Expanding the DNA database with that in mind simply makes sense."

Added Brighton Police Chief Mark Henderson: "This grant will allow our department to target a crime that directly affects the quality of life in the town. Being the victim of a burglary shatters an individual's peace of mind. These additional resources and training will enhance our ability to solve break-ins that have happened, prevent new ones from occurring and make our community safer."

In addition to Greece, Rome and Cortland police received both grants. Police departments in Auburn, Cheektowaga, Gloversville, Oswego, Saratoga Springs, Tonawanda and West Seneca and the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's office received the grant to conduct follow-up visits. In addition to Brighton, the North Tonawanda Police Department and sheriff's offices in Columbia, Fulton, Orleans, Tompkins and Warren counties received the burglary grant.

"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 (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov) 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.