Marking the 30th Anniversary of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino was joined in Pound Ridge by the Westchester County Office for Women, local elected officials, public safety officials and domestic violence advocates to announce a new program that addresses domestic violence in five northern Westchester municipalities. The two-year pilot program aims to provide a coordinated community response to domestic violence cases, assist in training advocates and identify gaps in the existing practice for responding to domestic violence.

“Tragedies caused by domestic violence are often beyond comprehension, but they are real,” said Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “This new initiative applies a community based approach to three core principles – cooperation, coordination and communication; with the goal of preventing domestic violence and providing support for its victims.”

The Westchester County Office for Women was awarded a $200,000 grant from the New York State Risk Reduction Enhanced Response program, which works to lower instances of intimate partner homicides, increase safety for all domestic violence victims, and hold offenders accountable.

The grant, funded by the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, allows Bedford, Lewisboro, North Salem, Pound Ridge and Somers to provide additional training for police to assess domestic violence cases, known as Lethality Assessment Protocol or LAP, and a secure location in Northern Westchester where victims will have access to advocate services.

Westchester County Legislator Francis Corcoran commented on the importance of expanding these services to the Northern Westchester municipalities.

“As a team, we worked diligently to provide northern Westchester with a formal support structure for victims of domestic violence and their families,” said Corcoran. “As we continue to extend services to Northern Westchester, the goal is to provide a single point of local support that is easily accessible and available to those in need.”

Coordination and victim services will be provided by Hope’s Door, Inc., an organization that works to empower domestic violence victims to achieve safety, independence and healing. CarlLa Horton, executive director of Hope’s Door, looks forward to the positive impact this program will bring to northern Westchester.

“This new collaborative pilot project will take us to the next level in identifying and supporting those most at risk of family violence and homicides in northeast Westchester,” said Horton. “Together, we will establish best practices for enhanced inter-agency cooperation and collaboration. Never again do we want to pick up the newspaper or turn on the radio to hear of another life or lives cut short from family violence.”

Additional training with law enforcement organizations and legal services for victims will be provided by the Pace Women’s Justice Center.

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