POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – While data from the Westchester County Office of Women shows that the number of domestic incident reports (DIR) per capita in Pound Ridge in 2010 ranks near the top in the county, Police Chief Dave Ryan says the data is inconsistent, because not every police department files reports using the same criteria.
The Office of Women, which issues the statistics every other year, reported that there were 68 DIRs in Pound Ridge in 2006, 41 in 2008, and 67 in 2010.
With a population of just 4,726, the number of DIRs reported in 2010 gives Pound Ridge 1.42 reports per capita, ranking it eighth out of 52 Westchester County towns.
Mount Vernon finished at the top of the list with 3.9 DIRs per capita, while New Rochelle (2.337) was second and White Plains (2.326) was third. Neighboring Bedford (.65) was 23rd and Lewisboro (.21) ranked 39th.
“Some [police departments] expand the Social Services definition of a domestic incident – which we do – so my numbers may be higher,” said Pound Ridge Police Chief Dave Ryan.
“My numbers will include not just married couples but boyfriends and girlfriends, same-sex couples, and people living together who are not married," he said. "And I review every report to make sure it’s accurate.”
Ryan stressed that the Office of Women data on DIRs reflects complaints filed with the police department, and don’t necessary mean there was a crime committed or an arrest. He said domestic incidents that lead to an actual crime can be a complicated issue.
“The guy we arrested recently for stalking put flowers on the woman’s car,” he said. “That in and of itself is not a crime. But when she says ‘Stop,’ the next time you do it, it starts the clock ticking. The act itself might not be criminal in nature, but it’s a greater part of something else.”
Ryan said domestic violence is a problem in every community, regardless of the socio-economic conditions.
“There are so many variables,” he said. “It could be alcohol and drugs; it could be economic issues, which causes tension, then becomes violent. “
Ryan pointed out that domestic violence sometimes can be passed down from generation to generation. “You will see it in a family when it happened to someone when they were younger,” he said.
There are also more domestic incidents reported today than in the past, Ryan said, because people are more aware of the issue, and police have better training and take the crime more seriously.
He said the case of Tracey Thurman, a woman in Torrington, Conn. who was beaten severely by her husband, including right in front of police, after she had reported the abuse several times, led to changes in the law in the early 1980s.
“The O.J. Simpson case also had a big effect,” Ryan said. “There have been historical cases that change it. Training has changed dramatically, and so has the law. We’ve gone from rarely making arrests to being mandated to make arrests.”
Ryan, who is working with the Northern Westchester Domestic Violence Task Force, said chronic domestic incident reports coming from a single household indicates a dangerous trend.
"I worry about it with every domestic case,” he said. “If left unchecked, they will spiral and will usually get worse. It starts as verbal abuse, and then with throwing things and then punching. It rarely goes away."