Congress needs to pass legislation aimed at reducing domestic violence against women, Sen. Charles Schumer said Wednesday.
In a conference call with reporters, the New York Democrat said he would be urging the U.S. Senate to pass the recently expired Violence Against Women Act. The senior Senator cited 43,000 incidents of domestic abuse in Upstate New York in 2011, with 2,750 of those cases coming from the Southern Tier.
"There is nothing more important than protecting our women, children and other victims of domestic violence, and I'm calling on my Senate colleagues to pass this life-saving legislation without further delay," Schumer said.
A previous version the anti-domestic violence bill passed the Senate last year but stalled in the House of Representatives. Schumer is hoping the new legislation - which would give law enforcement agencies and victims "tools to fight back" - finds traction in Congress this time around.
Recent data from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services shows domestic violence incidents in Upstate New York has been rampant. In 2011, there were 43,782 reported cases of domestic violence in the region that required law enforcement intervention.
"We need to get this bill moving again and get women the help they need," Schumer said.
The bill is expected to take the floor of the Senate on Thursday for a vote. Schumer said the bill by and large would authorize federal programs to encourage a collaboration among police agencies, the judicial system and public and private service providers to victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Schumer said he plans to highlight key provisions of the bill while on the Senate floor, including grants to train police in stopping domestic disputes. A provision also would toughen anti-stalking law to include digital harassment through the Internet and social media.
"For years, the Violence Against Women Act has helped send life-saving dollars to Upstate New York communities to develop specialized law enforcement units, train professionals in handling domestic violence and sexual assault, improve prosecutions of these crimes, and provide services to victims," Schumer said.
Within the last few days, there have been numerous reports of domestic incidents. The Jamestown Police Department on Monday responded to Flagg Avenue for a report of an unwanted person. Police said Brandon L. Quattrone, 29, assaulted a female victim, leaving her with a laceration above her eye. Quattrone was charged with third-degree assault in the incident.
Sheriff's deputies in Cattaraugus County have responded to two domestic disputes this week, one of which resulted in assault charges and the other with harassment charges.
According to Schumer, police agencies since 2006 have received more than $145 million in federal funding through programs included in the Violence Against Women Act. Legislation up for a vote would renew some of those programs and provide further training and outreach to prevent violence. The bill would provide the funding for five years.