Created: October 16, 2019 06:54 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — News10NBC is investigating how the Rochester Police Department is violating state law when officers are supposed to be helping victims of domestic violence.
On Tuesday, we first exposed the class action lawsuit filed against the RPD.
Now we're talking to the victim who started it.
Just before the father of her children busted open the door to her house and ripped her cell phone out of her hand, a young mother was able to call for police.
RPD arrested the man. By law, they should have given her a domestic incident report, but they never did.
That is happening so often that this mother and her lawyer are now suing Rochester Police.
If this has happened to you, contact Berkeley Brean at firstname.lastname@example.org.
News10NBC hid the mother's face and changed her voice because we do not reveal victims of domestic abuse.
"I don't feel safe. I don't feel safe for my kids," she said.
We know her as DS. Those are her initials and the initials that appear on the lawsuit against the RPD.
The front door of her home is still patched with plywood in the area where her abuser kicked it in last June.
"I have two kids that is literally living here with me with a door like that," DS said.
The lawsuit, filed Friday Oct. 11, says Rochester Police failed to give DS a domestic incident report, or DIR, at her house even though state law says police need to "immediately provide a copy to the victim."
Instead, police gave DS a number and told her to pick up the report at the Public Safety Building downtown.
"When I did go up there they said they couldn't give it to me," DS said. "It was on hold and it was under investigation."
"My understanding is that she still doesn't have it nearly four months later," said Legal Aid attorney Cindy Carroll.
Legal Aid is part of the lawsuit and representing DS.
In September, Legal Aid said its lawyers looked at cases of 51 domestic abuse clients.They found 44 never got the report from RPD. That’s almost nine out of 10 cases.
Legal Aid says there were more than 3,000 domestic violence cases in the city last year.
"So our feeling is that it's wide spread and likely has impacted thousands of victims," Carroll said.
After my first story was posted to News10NBC's Facebook page, we got dozens of messages from victims saying the same thing happened to them.
Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "You are now part of this lawsuit against the Rochester Police Department. Your initials are on it."
DS, suing RPD and City of Rochester over domestic violence report: "I'm okay with that. Like I was willing to do this because I know there are a lot of females that are going through this."
Brean: "You feel like you're maybe part of a solution here.”
DS: "Yes. Not the victim and the crime. Not that. But I want to help, not just myself but other women out there."
RPD and the city don't comment when they get sued.
The RPD general orders say officers "will complete a DIR... whether or not an arrest is made." But the orders don't say the report has to be given to the victim immediately.
Why is a DIR important?
It's a record of what happened which is important if it happens again. It gets victims access to help.
You have to take time off work to get to the Public Safety Building. And in the case of DS, she says her landlord wants her to pay to repair the door. The report would show it happened when she was attacked.
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