Ex-NYPD detectives will flex investigative muscle to deter domestic violence by “a new adult” — typically a mother’s new boyfriend — in at-risk households with young children, New York City’s child-welfare agency announced Tuesday.
The new protocols apply to families receiving “supportive services” — guidance by experts like social workers to help families with parenting skills. The program is an expansion of one already in place for families under active investigation over allegations of neglect or abuse, cases that already involve the ex-cops and anti-domestic-violence screenings.
Under the protocols, former detectives who already work for the agency as “investigative consultants” will get involved behind the scenes when there’s risk for domestic violence or a criminal history, “a new adult has been added to the household and has taken on a caretaker role” and there is at least one child younger than 7 in the home, according to the Administration for Children’s Services, the city’s child-welfare agency.
“It is often a risk factor when a new partner to the parent comes in the home who is not previously related to the children or involved with the children and may not have the same emotional relationship with the children,” David Hansell, ACS commissioner, said at a news conference Tuesday.
Many past cases of domestic and child abuse have involved parents’ new romantic partners, the commissioner said.
Some recent cases include:
- In 2012, a Southampton man pleaded guilty to punching his girlfriend’s toddler son to death to quiet him after caring for the boy all day while the boy’s mother worked.
- In 2016, a transgender beautician who had been in a relationship with the father of a 4-year-old boy pleaded guilty in the 2014 death of the boy, who was starved, beaten, burned and locked on a freezing Manhattan balcony.
David McDonald, an investigative consultant with ACS who spent two decades with the NYPD, said he has access to information that social workers and other child-welfare experts don’t, such as the ability to check criminal records.
“By examining that information we can then see escalating patterns of violence, potential red flags of prior domestic violence with unrelated families [and] provide that information to the family,” said McDonald, whose experience includes as a supervisor in the Bronx’s special victims squad and a detective in the 40th and 49th precincts.
Using the information, the social workers can help at-risk families prevent domestic violence and develop a “safety plan” in case there is domestic violence, the commissioner said.