While the Glen Cove Police Department has seen fewer crimes in the weeks since Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his stay-at-home order, there has been a slight increase in domestic incidents.
According to the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, a domestic incident is described as a “dispute, act of violence, or report of an offense between individuals within a family or household where police intervention is requested. A domestic incident is not necessarily a violation of law.”
Statewide, there was 15 percent increase in incidents in March, and a 30 percent increase in April. As a result, Cuomo announced a new text message and confidential online service to provide victims with assistance.
GCPD Detective Lt. John Nagle said that officers have been responding mostly to family arguments and a few violations of order of protection.
Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, a Democrat from Glen Cove, said that she has seen an increase in incidents herself. Although the state may be in a “pause,” she said, there are many resources available for help, including the county’s Domestic Violence Hotline and the Department of Health.
DeRiggi-Whitton attributed some incidents of domestic violence to people living in close quarters and the financial strain that many are experiencing during the pandemic. “I just think whenever there is a time of stress like this, everything gets compounded,” she said. “That’s what we’re seeing right now. I just want people to know that even though they’re feeling stuck at home during the pandemic, they should not be forced to stay in a [bad] situation.”
She has emphasized the importance of mental health care during the pandemic, recommending that residents in crowded households regularly spend time alone, getting fresh air or exercising.
The Krupnick Firm, a law firm in Glen Cove, has seen an increase of divorce-related inquiries since late March, said Kevin Krupnick, an attorney at law at the Krupnick Firm. He added that the firm has seen similar trends in other times of crisis, such as the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and the Great Recession.
“Typically, a crisis such as this, that involves life and death, tends to stir the conscious[ness] of one’s mortality,” Krupnick said. “As a result, many people tend to come to the realization that they do not love the one they’re with. This causes immediate spikes in domestic relations matters.”
The New York state court system is closed, Krupnick added, so there have been no new filings for divorce. “Divorce proceedings are not filed electronically in New York state,” he explained, “so … the increase in cases has not yet been seen. The suspension on new filings is acting as a dam holding back the crash of many adult relationships.”
Keith Scott, director of education at Safe Center LI, a domestic-abuse treatment center in Bethpage, said that increased stress could also lead to more abuse. The Safe Center LI hotline is (516) 465-4700. And while it may be difficult to ask for help on the phone while one is home with the abuser, Scott said, there are still ways to get assistance. Victims can email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a return text or a specific time to talk.
“The Safe Center is there for anyone who needs help,” Scott said. “It’s important that people have a safety plan for when they leave the abuser.” The center recommends that such a plan include establishing a safe place to go in the house, with exits and no weapons, if an argument breaks out; a list of safe people to contact; the memorization of important phone numbers; and the use of code word so that family members, friends, teachers or co-workers know when to get help.
Scott added that Safe Center LI expected to see an increase in child abuse as well, and advised that if a neighbor, friend or family member suspects child abuse, they should call 911.