Queens Cabinet discusses stalking

By Patrick Donachie

The NYPD intends to expand a program that combats stalkers throughout Queens in the coming months.

Cecile Noel, the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, relayed the news about the NYPD’s plan to beef up the Coordinated Approach to Preventing Stalking during a meeting of the Queens Borough Cabinet at Borough Hall Tuesday morning. The program began in precincts throughout Staten Island in June 2014, and the results were successful enough for the city to expand it throughout the city.

In Queens, the program currently operates only in the 101st, 103rd, 105th and 113th precincts, but Noel told the assembled group that the NYPD would begin training for in all other borough precincts next month.

The program is preventative in approach and Noel noted that many victims of violence reported prior incidents of stalking. About 54 percent of homicide victims previously reported being victims of stalking to the police, according to an oft-cited 1999 study on female victims of homicide. The NYPD increased identification of new stalking cases by 233 percent in Staten Island since the introduction of the so-called CAPS program in June 2014, the city reported last year.

Noel said CAPS and other initiatives from the NYPD and the mayor’s office were vital for Queens, which has reported significant numbers of domestic violence incidents. Of the 19,000 domestic violence incident reported in Queens in 2015, Noel said most involved violence against an intimate partner.

“A home should be a safe and wonderful place,” she said. “And when it’s not, it tears at the heart of every community.”

She also noted that the actual number of domestic violence incidents was likely higher than the reported number indicated.

“Overall, we know domestic violence is an underreported issue. There’s a lot of stigma and a lot of shame,” she said. “They think they’re responsible and they’re not, but they’re led to believe that by their abusers.”

The cabinet meeting, which included the district managers from every community board in Queens, also heard a presentation from Carolien Hardenbol, the co-director of the Immigration Intervention Project at Sanctuary for Families. The service and advocacy organization has assisted over 630 survivors and victims of trafficking since its founding in 1984, according to Hardenbol. She stressed that the organization operated with open arms when it came to the people it helped.

“We don’t want individuals arrested,” she said, maintaining the group’s aim is to provide services to those individuals when necessary.

Hardenbol pointed to the success of the city’s Human Trafficking Intervention Courts, which were established in 2013 as an alternate court proceeding that would treat individuals arrested on prostitution charges as victims or survivors, as opposed to criminals. Such courts operate in all five boroughs, as well as in Erie, Monroe, Nassau, Onondaga, Suffolk and Westchester counties. Hardenbol said the Queens court, headed by Judge Toko Serita and located in the Queens Criminal Court building, was of particular note due to its high success rate in dealing with human trafficking victims.

“Queens is looked at as a model for the state and the country,” she said.

(fixing the number of trafficking victims)

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