Expanding the County’s mission to reduce domestic violence cases across Westchester County, the Office for Women (OFW) has received a federal grant for the Westchester County Domestic Violence High Risk Team (DVHRT). David Ryan, former Chief of Pound Ridge Police for the past 23 years and a member of law enforcement for over 40 years, will serve in the new post, through a contract with Hope’s Door, a Westchester-based domestic violence services provider funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.
Ryan will be responsible for reviewing domestic violence cases from a law enforcement perspective, following the County Executive’s commitment to improving community/police response to family violence. The Team will help connect victims with the appropriate service providers. Ryan, along with DVHRT Coordinator Nancy Tunis of OFW, will oversee the continued DVHRT training of the County’s local police departments, with the five remaining police departments scheduled for training this fall.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “Our Office for Women is a model for New York State and the Country, in response to serious family violence and intimate partner violence training. We introduced the DVHRT program in an attempt to prevent future high-risk violence, and we have seen this training pay dividends in the communities who are already using it. This program is effective because our police are participating in training with fellow members of law enforcement, and with their help, we are working towards establishing long-term safety and security for our victims.”
Director of OFW Robi Schlaff said, “When we look at all the partners involved to protect a family from domestic violence, law enforcement is often the first point of contact. We are fortunate to have the most professional and competent partners in law enforcement here in Westchester. Our utmost concern will always be protecting the safety of Westchester County’s residents and families, and by working together with our police, we know we can successfully accomplish that goal.”
Ryan said, “Reducing the risk of violence stemming from domestic disputes has always been my passion, and when you have a long career in law enforcement, it’s possible to experience too many tragic and violent homicides. I have seen enough pain and suffering over the years that I knew could have been prevented, so I am personally invested in seeing this program succeed. We have seen a dramatic difference in the way our police officers respond with this new training, and while public safety will always be our mantra, we have a much more empathic and compassionate approach when we are engaged with victims of domestic violence.”
Of the County’s 42 local police departments, only one remains to be trained, with Mount Vernon, Larchmont and Harrison scheduled for September.