New York District Attorney Cy Vance told Lower East residents last night he’s getting tough on repeat offenders, especially those accused of domestic violence. During a town hall meeting at P.S. 20 on Essex Street, he said, “I do not need to tell this neighborhood that the consequences of domestic violence can turn deadly.”
Vance’s office is prosecuting Raul Barrera, who is accused in the brutal murder of 23-year old Sarah Coit, inside their Clinton Street apartment two weeks ago. Barrera has a long history of domestic violence incidents. Vance did not address the case directly but noted that the numbers of domestic cases in New York City are rising. He discussed plans to create a Family Justice Center to deal with domestic issues.
After a fairly lengthy presentation on his top priorities, Vance opened up the town hall meeting to questions from residents. A number of people expressed concerns about violence in the neighborhood’s public housing developments. They also asked what the DA’s could do about racial profiling. “How can we prevent our kids from being stopped by the police for no reason?,” one woman asked.
Vance struggled to answer the questions, first telling residents each case needed to be weighed individually. Later he said it’s up to the Police Department to properly train its officers. “It’s beyond the control of the prosecutor’s office,” he explained.
Last night’s meeting was co-sponsored with Community Board 3. Top brass from all of the neighborhood’s Police precincts were in the audience. Vance has been spending quite a bit of time on the Lower East Side recently.
He helped give out awards during the Lower East Side’s recent police officer appreciation event:
And he was the featured speaker at the March meeting of the 7th Precinct Community Council: