SAUGERTIES >> The Saugerties Police Department hopes its new purple and white patrol car will serve as a constant reminder of the need to prevent domestic violence, the police chief said Tuesday.
“Domestic violence does not discriminate,” Joseph Sinagra said during a press conference to unveil the patrol car. “Its effects are seen through all social and economic stratas. Race, gender and age are no exception when it comes to domestic violence.”
Sinagra said, though, that domestic violence can be stopped and education and awareness are key.
Most of the Saugerties Police Department’s patrol vehicles feature a traditional black and white paint scheme. As the purple and white patrol car drives through the community, it will start a conversation and continue to bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence, Sinagra said.
Sinagra was joined at the press conference by several local, county and state officials, including Gwen Wright, executive director of the state Office for Prevention of Domestic Violence. A victim of domestic violence herself, Wright echoed the message that prevention is necessary.
“Prevention of domestic violence is the only way to end the scourge,” she said. “It’s not going to stop because we turn our faces and ignore the ugliness that’s happening downstairs, next door and across the street. It’s only going to stop because we take the bold step to say, ‘Enough is enough.’”
Wright said she was proud to have called Ulster County her home for about 20 years. She said it was Ulster County Family Court that connected her to Family of Woodstock, which, in turn, connected her to a service community that saved her life and launched a career when she was a young mother of two children and pregnant with a third.
Wright said she also was proud of Saugerties for dedicating a police cruiser to get the message out that domestic violence can affect anyone. Efforts like the purple and white patrol car, as well as other events Ulster County hosts in recognition of October being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, are important, she said, but awareness efforts should not end Oct. 31.
Ulster County Executive Michael Hein also attended the press conference and recounted how his family was affected by domestic violence when his cousin’s boyfriend “decided she just wouldn’t listen” and broke her jaw, her teeth and her eye socket. He said he shared the story so other victims know there is life after domestic violence and they do not have to stay and wait for the worst to happen.
“There’s opportunity,” Hein said. “Real relief. Places for you to go with you and your children and your pets as well. An opportunity to escape the dangers of domestic violence.
He said his cousin recuperated and is living a successful life.
Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright said awareness needs to be brought to the community, and Saugerties’ patrol car is one way to do that. He said that when he first became district attorney, he saw the number of domestic violence incidents rise year after year. Fortunately, that trend began to reverse itself two years ago, Carnright said. He said that last year, the county had 500 fewer incidents of domestic violence than the year before.
But there is still a long way to go, he said.