Saugerties police unveil domestic violence awareness campaign

Fr. Chris Berean of St. Mary of the Snow dedicates the Saugerties Police Department’s Domestic Violence Awareness police car. (photo by Robert Ford)

Fr. Chris Berean of St. Mary of the Snow dedicates the Saugerties Police Department’s Domestic Violence Awareness police car. (photo by Robert Ford)

Domestic violence is the most common call for Saugerties police. On Sept. 29, in a well promoted press conference, Chief Joseph Sinagra revealed the department’s new public awareness response: a purple police car emblazoned with the words “Domestic Violence Awareness.” The car will be on patrol year-round, serving for onlookers as a reminder of the importance of the issue and the department’s dedication to it.

“The car is our way of reminding victims that programs exist and that we are there to help them,” Sinagra said.

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Calls for domestic violence in Saugerties are up this year — police have handled 266 so far this year, just under one a day. Last year there were 280 calls all year.

“Not only is it our most prevalent call, it’s also one of our most dangerous,” Sinagra said.

Gwen Wright, director of the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, attended the press conference. She said that as a young woman living in Kingston with two children and one on the way, she was a victim of domestic violence. Family of Woodstock helped her and her kids get out of a bad situation and turn her life around.

She called Sinagra’s program a “bold and important step” towards helping victims of domestic violence.

Wright added that she would be making police agencies aware of the Saugerties program and suggesting they do the same thing.

Town Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel and councilman Fred Costello lauded Sinagra for taking initiative on the awareness campaign.

“Public awareness and education are the two main factors in lowering the number of domestic violence incidents,” Sinagra said.

Seth Turner, Saugerties superintendent of schools, said educators encounter the effects of domestic violence.
“We also have to deal with this when students are violent with one another or the victim of bullying,” Turner added.

Police cited the case of Anthony Passaro, Jr., who shot and killed his wife, Tracy, on Sept. 26, 2007 as the worst case of domestic violence that has happened in Saugerties.

“Enough is enough,” Wright said. “We need to be a light shining in the dark” for victims of abuse.