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“May 15 is probably circled in red on many calendars. It was the date the New York State Pause Policy would end but, for us here in Westchester, it has not. Instead, New York State is working region-by-region to decide what will and will not be allowed to reopen and what steps we will continue to take to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Westchester is part of the mid-Hudson region and still must follow the Pause Policy until the State gives us a green light to move forward. Non-essential businesses must remain closed with few exceptions.

Even as some work resumes, social distancing remains in place whether indoors or out. Anyone who cannot stay more than six feet away from others, must wear a mask. I know it’s not easy, but just like everyone else, my staff and I are following this guidance. We urge you to be patient and follow the law for the health and safety of all of us.

Our work is guided by the New York State Court system. While certain procedures have been curtailed, felony arraignments continue to be held via video-conferencing. As of this past week, felony hearings have been scheduled and are proceeding in a similar “virtual” manner. Once our region meets the Governor’s COVID benchmarks for reopening, court operations will normalize and judges and staff will return to their courthouses with specific guidance to keep everyone safe.

In general, with most everyone confined to their homes, crime is down but there are a few troubling areas. Auto thefts and related crimes of opportunity where thieves simply open unlocked cars and take valuables continue to be on the rise over last year. Lock your cars at all times and take your keys or key fob with you. Protect your property.

We continue to be concerned about domestic violence and with what we are not seeing–the unreported abuse in homes where victims are isolated with their abusers. It may take the form of intimate partner abuse, child abuse or elder abuse. We are working closely with all of our partners in the County to prevent potential abuse and recurrent abuse. We ask all of you to be vigilant. If you believe someone you know, of any age, may be the victim of abuse, report it to police or call our office. We are here to help.

Gun violence is a major concern. When overwhelming stress is mixed with a gun, death is often the result. There have been two incidents of family murder-suicides in the county since the Pause began, killing five people. In addition to those deaths, five others have been fatally shot since April 1st. Every death is a tragedy we don’t want to see repeated.
We urge you, if you believe someone you care about is in crisis and has access to weapons, raise the red flag. If there is an imminent threat, call 911. If you believe there is time to act, call our office for help in obtaining an extreme risk protection order. We have a designated team to help.

While we continue to live under restrictions brought on by the COVID crisis and deal with all the changes in the world around us, please know we still are here for you. Our phones in every unit are staffed as always. The Victims Justice Center is operating by phone and virtual connections. Our website is a great resource to find the help you need.

I want to thank all essential workers, including my staff, who are keeping us safe in our communities whether in hospitals or on the streets. Together we will get through this, together we will keep Westchester safe.”