FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 4, 2018
Brooklyn District Attorney and Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Announce Expansion of Anti-Stalking Program to Brooklyn
Coordinated Approach to Identify Stalking
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with Commissioner Cecile Noel of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV), today announced that a successful program operated by OCDV that has increased identification and reporting of stalking in Staten Island and Queens is being launched in Brooklyn.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This specialized training is an important part of our continuing commitment to protecting victims of intimate partner violence. If we can identify potentially dangerous behavior such as stalking early on then we can utilize all of our resources to try to intervene and keep this potentially criminal behavior from escalating to physical injury or death.”
Commissioner Noel said, “The CAPS initiative has helped to increase the safety of survivors since the program’s inception by increasing awareness of the dangers of stalking. With this expansion, the work of this program will provide an even greater number of police officers and district attorney’s offices with critical tools to recognize and manage cases of stalking, ensuring that they provide survivors with timely and informed assistance. We are happy to partner with the King County District Attorney’s office on this important work.”
The Coordinated Approach to Stalking program (CAPS) is a collaborative initiative between the District Attorney’s Office, OCDV and the New York City Police Department to increase the identification and reporting of intimate partner stalking cases, enhance stalking arrests and prosecutions and link victims to services. The CAPS initiative is a homicide prevention program linking stalking victims to critical services before the pattern of behavior escalates to physical assault or homicide. National statistics find that 54% of female homicide victims reported stalking to the police before they were killed by their intimate partner.
Stalking cases involve ongoing behavior that can include sending gifts and flowers, multiple phone calls and texts and repeatedly showing up at a person’s home, school or work. In New York, defendants may be charged with Stalking in the First Degree, a D felony; Stalking in the Second Degree, an E felony; Stalking in the Third Degree, an A misdemeanor; or Stalking in the Fourth Degree, a B misdemeanor, depending on the type of behavior involved, prior criminal acts and the age of the victim.
OCDV, NYPD and the District Attorney’s Office have recently trained police officers and Brooklyn DA staff to identify stalking behavior and to determine when there is probable cause for an arrest; to understand the stalking statutes, draft stalking complaints and prosecute stalking cases; engage in risk assessment and safety planning with stalking victims; and to work with victims to document and preserve evidence of stalking incidents.
The CAPS program was launched on Staten Island in 2014 and expanded to Queens in 2015. Within the first year of the program launch there was a 233% increase in stalking arrests recorded on Staten Island. It was then launched in Queens in July 2015 in four precincts and expanded to all 13 precincts by April 2016. After it was expanded to all precincts in Queens, there was a 177% increase in stalking arrests compared to the prior year.