New York State has a new way to help domestic violence victims. It's called the Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification of New York or SAVIN. It will give immediate notification when an order of protection in family court has been served. Our Iris St. Meran tells us about the alert system and how Sheriff's offices in the area say it will be another tool to help victims.
NEW YORK STATE -- An order of protection is one tool to protect a domestic violence victim from his or her abuser.
Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol said, "This is the official court order that may tell them that they can't return to their home or they can no longer can have contact with the victim of the domestic violence or whether it's children."
When it is served, it can make an already bad situation worse because the aggressor may get upset and want to retaliate. To give victims notice, New York State now has the Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification of New York or SAVIN-NY. People seeking an order of protection through the family court system can opt to be notified by phone, fax, email or text message that the order has been served.
Onondaga County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy John Balloni said, "It alerts you when that order of protection is served. The order of protection is not valid until it's actually served on the subject that's ordered to stay away or whatever they're ordered to do."
Balloni says there are limitations to what any law enforcement agency can do. He encourages victims to have a safety plan in place for when that order is served. The plan could include moving yourself or children to a safe place and avoid places the person being served would know where you are. Local victims groups can assist with that.
In Madison County, the Sheriff’s office has served 259 orders of Protection since the SAVIN-NY program began last October. Undersheriff John Ball said approximately 160 of them were required to be reported to the SAVIN-NY system.
In Onondaga County, there are thousands of orders of protection, but Balloni says, so far, just 14%of people have signed up for the alert system. In Oneida County, the sheriff says participation numbers are also low. Both say it's because the system is new.
And so far, it seems to be working the way it was intended to.
"If it works the way it's intended. We don't hear because there is no problem,” Balloni said. “The people take whatever safety precautions they need to take."
He says in the past, victim notification was almost unheard of. The Sheriffs' offices are hoping now that the word is out and more people will participate.
If someone violates an order of protection, you should call police immediately.
To learn more about this alert system, visit www.savin-ny.com or www.nyalert.gov.