Domestic abuse up, homicides decline
Officials say more victims may be reporting incidents
CAPITOL New crime data showed an uptick in domestic violence across New York state last year, with more than 85,000 victims, though related homicides declined sharply.
The Division of Criminal Justice Services reported 54,848 domestic violence victims outside New York City in 2012, up more than 1,700, or 3 percent, from the year before.
The New York Police Department, using data that excludes some lower-level crimes, said there were 30,428 domestic violence victims last year, an increase of about 1,500.
State criminal justice officials said Wednesday the increase in police reports about domestic assaults, sex offenses and violations of protection orders may reflect an ongoing push for victims to contact authorities.
“This is an area that deserves continued focus and attention,” said Michael Green, DCJS executive deputy commissioner. He noted that overall homicides statewide declined last year, but the likeliest person to kill a woman in New York was her partner or ex. Of the 104 female victims last year, 60 were killed in domestic violence. Men accounted for 532 victims, but only 14 died at the hands of an intimate partner.
The most common weapons in domestic homicides were knives or blunt objects, followed by guns. Half the deaths last year occurred during arguments, with several others in murder-suicides and abuse cases. Twenty of those killed were infants or toddlers.
The homicide total dropped to 136 from 171 the year before. Green said it’s difficult to draw conclusions from one year’s data. Over the past five years, that number has gone up and down.
Since the state established new standardized crime reporting, upstate New York and Long Island reported roughly the same 53,000 domestic violence victims in both 2010 and 2011, while New York City reported about 29,000 victims both years.
Factors that could have affected last year’s uptick included more enforcement of the state’s late 2010 law making strangulation a separate offense, which rose 11 percent last year, officials said.
They also noted a new felony effective in January called aggravated family offense, where defendants committing misdemeanor offenses can be prosecuted as felons when they have previous convictions for crimes against family members within the previous five years. So far, that charge has been brought 296 times, with half the cases in Nassau County and Queens.
Under the same statute signed last year by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, courts now must consider two factors when considering bail: any past violations of orders of protection and the defendant’s history of gun possession. The previous criterion was a defendant’s likelihood to return to court.
The statewide data showed 6,152 violations of protection orders last year in New York City, up slightly, and 4,985 violations in the rest of the state, down 6 percent.
The state in 2011 established an online repository of domestic incident reports police are required to fill out any time they respond to one. DCJS now has almost 700,000 as far back as 2010 in the database police can check when responding to a new incident.