Domestic violence victims can now be better equipped to provide for their own safety and the safety of their children through a new order of protection notification system, advocates for victims of domestic violence said today.
The new program, spearheaded by the state sheriff’s association institute, now allows for victims to be notified automatically when orders of protection issued from family court are served on the alleged abuser.
Once they’re served, formally notifying the targeted party of the order details, the orders become active. The notification also starts a dangerous time for victims, advocates say, as the person the victim is leaving can become enraged.
The program, run through NYAlert.gov, allows victims to sign up for notification via a variety of means, from e-mail to text message, fax and automated phone call, notifying them quickly of the status of the order. There’s even a free iPhone app called iAlertz.
The program has been running in Schenectady County since the summer, officials said, with victims notified of it through the court and victim’s advocates, then signing up.
Carole Merrill-Mazurek, director of women’s services for the YWCA, said the program has been a success so far.
“We’ve done this at the shelter with wonderful results,” Merrill-Mazurek said at an event held today at the YWCA announcing the program. “Victims feel this is another tool they have to keep themselves safe. Victims know how dangerous it is when an order of protection is served.”
The program deals mainly with family court orders, orders where the victim goes to the court and requests them. The victim convinces the judge that an order is needed. Once issued, the order goes to the sheriff’s department, where deputies find the person and serve them.
The process is somewhat different for criminal courts, where the targeted party is arrested and brought before a judge directly. If an order of protection is issued there, it is served upon the initial court appearance and effective then.
For more on the story, see Wednesday's print and online editions of The Daily Gazette.