Expanded Access Implementation Report
In 2008, New York State’s laws were amended to allow a broader range of victims to seek orders of protections in Family Court, specifically extending access to “intimate partners.” The law also required OPDV to prepare a report on the impact that this change would have on police practices, however, OPDV chose to look at impact across several systems serving domestic violence victims. The report summarized data from the Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Office of Court Administration, and the results of informal surveys of police chiefs, sheriffs, domestic violence service providers and LGBT service providers, in addition to feedback from several state agencies and the New York City Police Department.
The most clearly measured impact was a significant increase in the number of petitions for orders of protection in Family Courts. While data indicated an increase in domestic incident reports and increased use of criminal courts, it was not clear what could be attributed to the new law. Both law enforcement and the court system invested significant resources to revise forms and data reporting and to disseminate new guidelines or provide training for personnel to properly implement the law. Local service providers also had to train staff and increase efforts to collaborate with other systems in their communities.
The report reflects some of the challenges involved in putting into place the changes needed to implement the law. It also cites the need for increased attention to the issues of working with teen and LGBTQ victims. While some aspects are still being refined, such as the definition of “intimate partner” as interpreted by the courts, the law has clearly made a difference for the many victims who were previously denied access to civil orders of protection.