Chief-Leader
September 14, 2015 5:00 pm

 

Cop Unions Dispute Need For Victims’ Advocates

City Plans 2 Per Precinct

By MARK TOOR

    
PATRICK J. LYNCH: Better spent on more cops.  
 
SUSAN HERMAN: Help them move past trauma.  

Two police unions last week attacked a program the de Blasio Administration is creating that would spend $30 million over the next three years to place two advocates for crime victims in each precinct and Housing Police Service Area.

“While we understand the need to assist crime victims,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement, “it seems that any massive investment of tax dollars would be better spent by preventing citizens from being victimized in the first place, and you do that by hiring more police officers.”

‘Better Than Assisting’

He continued, “We have heard it said by prosecutors that a crime prevented is better than a crime prosecuted. In this case, a crime prevented is far better than having to assist a victim.”

“The biggest advocates for crime victims are police officers,” agreed Edward D. Mul­lins, president of the Ser­geants’ Benevolent Association.

The program, first reported in the New York Post, will have one advocate in each stationhouse concentrating on domestic-violence victims and the second one working with victims of other crimes.

The advocates will help victims fill out applications for compensation, tell them about specialized services, and show them how to obtain counseling, Susan Herman, Deputy Police Commissioner for Collaborative Policing, told the DNAinfo news website. The goal is to speed the victim’s recovery from trauma, she said.

‘Our Obligation to Them’

Crime victims “have to give information to us and talk to us in what may be the most traumatic moments of their life,” she said. “We ask them to go to the prosecutor’s office, we ask them to go to court. And it’s really our obligation to assist them through that process.”

The advocates “will stay with that victim and work with that victim as long as the victim wants,” she said.

The program was scheduled to start next May. This fiscal year’s budget, which took effect July 1, allocates $5.1 million, DNAinfo said. Next year’s allocation is $9.8 million, followed by $14.7 million every year starting in fiscal 2018. The city plans to issue a request for bids from nonprofit service providers shortly.

The NYPD has had domestic-violence officers assigned to stationhouses since the 1980s, but Ms. Herman described the new program as “a tremendous expansion of that work.”

Says It’s Duplicative

Mr. Mullins, however, said the program “duplicates what we’re doing already.”

A spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio, Amy Spitalnick, said “This relatively small, targeted investment in a common-sense program complements the NYPD’s comprehensive crime-fighting tools, and will go a long way toward providing crime victims with even more effective responses at the time of the incident and in the critical days, weeks, and months after.”