49th makes effort to curb domestic violence

(l-r) Police officer Lepore, Captain Alps, Rabbi Keith Elijah Thompson and Kay Cardona organized a very informative domestic violence workshop.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

Bronx resident Kay Cardona said she had no idea what domestic violence was when she remarried at 31.

But she would soon learn first-hand.

“Almost immediately my husband started doing things like yelling at me or cornering me if he didn’t like something I said or if I wasn’t doing something the right way. I had no idea what was going on.”

Cardona was among several women who spoke at a domestic violence workshop at the 49th Precinct headquarters in Pelham Parkway on Tuesday, April 25.

The forum was attended by several dozen members of the NYPD Explorers youth program.

Like other victims, she said she felt obligated to stay with her husband for the sake of their child, but ultimately realized she had to escape.

“When he choked me and I blacked out for the second time while my son was standing near me with his stuffed animal, that’s when I realized it was no joke. It wasn’t until the point that death was going to be the outcome for me that I finally got out of (the situation)”

Like many victims, Cardona struggled to pay the bills and fulfill all the duties of a parent without her ex-spouse’s salary, but said help was available from organizations including Safe Horizon and the Bronx D.A.’s office.

“It’s a very long and hard road, but if you or someone you know is in this situation, you can do it,” she said.

NYPD 49th Precinct Commander Captain Thomas Alps told the capacity teen crowd the issue of domestic violence was a major concern for him since taking control of the precinct last November.

“This year, it’s accounted for 18 percent of our (overall) crime, and when you talk about felony assaults, it accounts for 51 percent.” That’s a lot of crime, and a lot of people are affected by it, and children are affected the most.”

The Tuesday, April 25 presentation also featured a skit in which teens played a couple with children.

The father becomes angered when the mother of his children calls him repeatedly to bring home milk, and the incident soon escalates to physical violence.

Police officer David Lepore, a former domestic violence officer, compared the physical abuse to a progressive disease that often gets worse if it isn’t treated.

“The offender may push someone to the ground one day and realize the victim didn’t do anything about it,” Lepore said. “So next time they slap them, and if they don’t do anything about it they punch them, and it gets worse and worse.”

Domestic violence unit police officer Melvin Rodriguez said domestic violence arrests can go through either criminal or family court, depending on circumstances.

When the unit investigates a reported incident, they make a home visit and make referrals to help get victims assistance.

Unfortunately, many incidents go unreported, Rodriguez said.

“We can control the reported violence, but a lot of incidents we don’t know about because the victim might be afraid or may not know (they are being abused),” he said.

Rodriguez strongly urged residents to report anything they believed could be domestic abuse.

The 49th precinct domestic violence unit can be reached directly at (718) 918-2030.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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