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Jan. 7, 2022 -- In a time of tremendous concern about public safety, racial justice and the future of our democracy, Westchester County District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah has closed out her first year in office with a record number of reforms that enhance safety, accountability, integrity and justice for the residents of Westchester County.

“When I took over the Westchester DA’s Office last January, I laid out an agenda to better serve the people of Westchester drawing on my experience as a prosecutor and advocate,” DA Rocah said. “I am tremendously proud of the dedicated ADAs and staff in my office who work so hard every day to serve their communities by keeping the people of Westchester safe and striving always to do the right thing. And, I am proud of the new policies and reforms we have implemented in just one year to modernize the DA’s office by focusing on safety, accountability, integrity and justice – and, we are just getting started.”

Safety:

DA Rocah joined forces with local, state and federal law enforcement partners and members of the community, announcing the Gun and Gang Initiative, which uses a precision police and precision prosecution model to target repeat violent offenders, who commit the majority of violent crimes.

  • In partnership with Moms Demand Action and all Westchester school districts, she launched the Safe Storage Program to proactively curb gun violence, especially among young people. This follows the Office’s work throughout the year to train police, prosecutors and schools on New York’s red flag law, support background checks legislation, hold community gun buybacks, and launch a collaborative Gun and Gang Initiative.

  • DA Rocah has been laser focused on fighting hate crimes and extremism, as detailed in this OpEd she wrote on a racist and anti-Semitic attack in Ossining.

  • She appointed a new Hate and Bias Crime Coordinator who is working extensively with law enforcement partners on finding new ways to combat these crimes, including a hotline (914-995-TIPS).

  • The office created several new positions to fight wage theft, protect worker safety and help vulnerable populations, including our immigrant communities.

Accountability and Integrity:

  • This past year, DA Rocah restructured the District Attorney’s Office to focus on accountability and integrity in the criminal justice system, and made strides in ensuring that the Office reflects the diversity of the community it serves.

  • She established the first-ever Conviction Review Unit (CRU). CRU is dedicated to the examination of credible claims of actual innocence and wrongful conviction. CRU is staffed by three professional, independent attorneys with extensive experience in this area and has already begun reviewing cases and advising on procedures and practices to prevent the risk of wrongful convictions.

  • DA Rocah established the Law Enforcement Integrity Bureau and increased the resources of the Public Integrity Bureau, requiring both to report directly to her. These Bureaus have conducted numerous investigations, many of which are ongoing, and brought charges where appropriate under the law. In addition, after multiple allegations involving the Mount Vernon Police Departmentt, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York accepted DA Rocah’s request for an investigation into possible civil rights violations by that department. DA Rocah also announced a full and independent review of the police-involved shootings of DJ Henry and Kenneth Chamberlain.

  • She appointed the Office’s first-ever Ethics Officer, who is developing enhanced ethics training for prosecutors. DA Rocah also hired the first-ever Chief Data Officer to more thoroughly gather, analyze and report crucial data for much greater transparency and accountability.

  • She appointed the first Executive level Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer and formed the first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

  • She hired and promoted a record number of women and people of color to positions of leadership and authority within the office.

Justice:

As a daughter of victims of violent crime, DA Rocah has taken a victim-centered approach to sexual assault and violent crimes focused on survivors and their families.

DA Rocah is doing unprecedented work with local leaders, law enforcement, the courts and community partners to cultivate specialty courts and diversionary programs that reduce recidivism, racial disparity, and inequality in the criminal justice system.

  • One such program, Fresh Start, launched as a pilot program in October and expanding countywide in 2022, is a community-based diversion program that emphasizes rehabilitation and opportunity over incarceration for certain first-time, low-level offenders.

  • DA Rocah stood with Governor Kathy Hochul when she signed the Less is More Act to reduce unnecessary incarceration.

“I am incredibly proud of the work we have accomplished during my first year in office, but there is still much to be done,” DA Rocah said. “In 2022, the District Attorney’s Office will build on our successes as we work to solidify the ideals of safety, accountability, integrity and justice through the hard work of dedicated prosecutors and support staff, continued partnerships with local and federal partners, increased transparency and the expansion of diversionary courts and programs.”

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Jess Vecchiarelli, Director of Communications
(914) 995-3586
jvecchiarelli@westchesterda.net

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Releases 2022