Mar 26, 2010

At first Northern Manhattan Town Hall, Manhattan DA announces new office in Washington Heights

Last night, Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance held his first Washington Heights/Inwood Town Hall Meeting at the Isabella Geriatric Center in Washington Heights. Among those in attendance were over 50 community members, over 20 of Mr. Vance's ADAs, the Commanding Officers of the 33rd & 34th precincts, the head District Attorney of the Dominican Republic, the Ambassador to the United Nations for the Dominican Republic, and Washington Heights Councilman, Ydanis Rodriguez.

The District Attorney began by addressing the crowd in Spanish, welcoming them to the meeting and expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to speak about his work and to hear community members' concerns. He focused his speech on "initiatives that . . .may be of particular relevance to Northern Manhattan."

1)Immigrant Affairs
The DA alerted the community to the types of criminal activity that immigrant populations are at risk of in Northern Manhattan including individuals falsely representing themselves as lawyers and the acceptance of money in exchange for the promise of immigration papers. Mr. Vance introduced his Immigrant Affairs Department and encouraged the community to notify an Assistant District Attorney should they fall victim to, or be alerted to, any types of these crimes.

2) Domestic Violence
Over 60% of Domestic Violence cases are reported from Northern Manhattan. The DA pointed the community to his specialized Domestic Violence team and noted that one of his motivations in creating a new DA's Office in Washington Heights is "to deliver our product, public safety, to you."

3) Elder Abuse
Mr. Vance also addressed a lesser known problem, but one that effects many Northern Manhattaners, Elder Abuse. He pledged himself to combat the type of domestic abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, and virtual eviction by drug dealers that the elderly face.

4)New District Attorney's Office in Washington Heights
On opening a new office, Mr. Vance said, "I believe that it is important for our office to have a physical presence in this community. I have committed to open a Washington Heights office. . .It's a long way to go to downtown Manhattan if you are resident of Northern Manhattan....People we seek to serve are sometimes unable to or afraid to go down to lower Manhattan and I would like to make our office more accessible."

5) Conviction Integrity
DA Vance announced his new Conviction Integrity program, created to make sure that "we know what causes errors in charging are, and ensuring. . clear protocols to minimize errors in charging."

Following his speech, community members drew the District Attorney's attention to the types of issues they found most problematic in their community. Most frequently spoke about were "predatory" landlords and the reinvigoration of young gangs in the community. The District Attorney committed to speaking individually to more than one individual in the audience and expressed his commitment to combating these issues in Upper Manhattan.