Middletown had two apparent murder-suicide cases last month, just days apart. The city police chief says there wasn't a domestic violence history in either situation, but with the Monhagen Avenue incident there were signs.
"Afterwards in reading everyone's statements, it was obvious to the family there was a domestic violence situation but nobody reached out for help. So it was a little alarming to me that everyone seemed to know that something was going on, but didn't take those steps to actually seek help and intervene," said Middletown City Police Chief John Ewanciew.
Middletown Police and Safe Homes of Orange County say they want the community to know there are resources available for those who need it. Safe Homes have trained officers to ask questions that assess how at-risk victims may be. The goal of this Risk Reduction Response Project is to ensure victims are safe, and know what resources are available.
"They will then either screen into the Risk Reduction Response team, or they may not. Either way, a call is placed at the time of the incident to our hotline," said Safe Homes of Orange County Executive Director Kellyann Kostyal-Larrier.
It doesn't stop there as a Safe Homes employee helps review cases, and police officers do follow-up visits to make sure everything's alright.
"In doing that follow-up interview, they have discovered there's been additional crimes that haven't been reported," Ewanciew said.
Kostyal-Larrier says the same project has been successful in Newburgh.
"It was a very positive impact on community policing," Kostyal-Larrier said.
Chief Ewanciew says the partnership with Safe Homes of Orange County began soon after the police department noticed a pattern in their service calls in 2018.
"A majority of our aggravated assaults, which are our most serious assaults, were related to domestic violence incidents," Ewanciew said.
The Risk Reduction Response program is also in Port Jervis, and Safe Homes wants to replicate this throughout the county. The 24-hour hotline for Safe Homes is (845) 562-5340.