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Goodell: State Gives Mixed Messages On Abuse Cases

Assemblyman Andrew Goodell is taking issue with what he says are the state’s mixed messages regarding domestic violence and the effectiveness of police officers.

Goodell, R-Jamestown, recently voted against a chapter amendment that expands access to victim compensation money by removing a previously mandatory law enforcement reporting requirement and providing alternative ways of proving a qualifying crime was committed. Goodell said, particularly in cases of domestic violence, having police involved is necessary for an order of protection to be granted. That means, in his view, the state is sending the message that providing money to victims is more important than stopping domestic abusers.

“So domestic violence is a huge issue and the governor in my opinion properly identified it and this legislature, in my opinion, is very much aware of it,” Goodell said. “The governor then went on to say, and I quote, ‘absent prosecution the offender’s abusive behavior may continue and escalate.’ … So here we have the governor in her messages saying absent prosecution abusive behavior may continue and escalate, and then at the same time we get a chapter amendment that makes it unlawful for the Crime Victims Compensation Board to report the crime if it came through a victims’ services organization. Is there something here that I’m missing?”

The chapter amendment (A.8566) states records of either a support agency for survivors of crime or records of

a criminal justice agency may be provided to support a claim. It also changes how victim services providers would be required to handle claims, depending on the circumstances. Supporters, including Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, said some victims don’t feel comfortable talking to police and are better served with victims services organizations and then proceeding to a Crime Victims Compensation Board.

“We do live in separate circumstances,” Peoples-Stokes said. “Even though we pledge allegiance to justice for all, it doesn’t always play out like that. I understand that. And I’m ok with it because I think there are opportunities for it to be changed when like-minded people get together and think about ways it can be changed. This is one of them, this piece of legislation. Because sometimes people are actually afraid to talk to law enforcement about their circumstances because they fear for their life.”

Goodell said the chapter amendment goes too far by making it unlawful to report whole categories of crimes to law enforcement. The change may seem small taken in a vacuum, Goodell said, but comes after a vote earlier in the week to prohibit New York law enforcement officers to participate in out-of-state investigations of doctors using telehealth in violation of other states’ laws and with past legislation that limits law enforcement’s cooperation in federal immigration cases.

“Maybe we should consider a different approach and support law enforcement and recognize that effective law enforcement can reduce crime and reduce the number of victims and make New York safer,” Goodell said.

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