DEC and State Parks launch domestic and sexual violence prevention training to help make recreation areas safer

Tue May 17, 2022 5:45 p.m.

The Office for Domestic Violence Prevention trains more than 4,000 employees working at state parks, campgrounds and trails to help identify and respond to incidents

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation have launched new trainings to help prevent domestic and sexual violence in the hundreds parks, campgrounds, day use areas, trails, boat launches and other public places. outdoor spaces operated across New York. Seasonal state hiring is underway, and experts led by the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) are training many of the public-facing staff under Governor Kathy’s initiative. Hochul launched last year to help victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence. , with the aim of providing resources, access to safety and support to save lives.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Domestic and sexual violence can happen anywhere, and it’s critical that we have staff members trained to identify warning signs, respond to incidents and help survivors who need help. DEC is proud to join State Parks and the Office of Domestic Violence Prevention in helping prevent these acts of violence before a tragedy occurs. With nearly all of our campgrounds open this weekend, DEC remains committed to making visitors’ stays safe and enjoyable.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “We look forward to our staff receiving this important training through the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. This is a smart partnership that will improve our state’s response to domestic and gender-based violence – and strengthen our agency’s commitment to helping all visitors feel safe and welcome when they visit. our state parks.”

OPDV Executive Director Kelli Owens said, “We need to start involving more allies in the GBV prevention effort. It only takes one person to make a difference in the life of a survivor. When all parts of the systems that come into contact with the public understand the impact and consequences of gender-based violence, especially as they relate to marginalized communities, we increase the likelihood that an individual will find a way out of the abuse. I thank Governor Hochul for her unwavering commitment to preventing domestic violence and for her leadership in ensuring that survivors have the support they need.

In October, Hochul announced the training as part of the state’s work to transform domestic and sexual violence service delivery to be more culturally appropriate, survivor-centered and trauma-informed. OPDV created, developed and launched the training program when many of the state’s parks, campgrounds and recreation areas – which serve millions of customers each year – reopen for the season. More than 4,000 employees who work on DEC public lands and state parks are expected to receive the training. In addition, State Park Police, DEC Environmental Conservation Police (ECO) officers, and rangers will continue to receive training to recognize signs of domestic violence when interacting with the public. .

A DEC press release said: “To address domestic and sexual violence and create safety for all survivors, it is essential to better understand gender-based violence in all systems, the cultural intersections of domestic and sexual violence and the challenges that individuals face in accessing services. The training explores these intersections and engages with organizations that specifically help people in traditionally underserved communities and are led by people with these voices. The partnership between state agencies recognizes the importance of engaging and training non-traditional allies, and the training covers the dynamics of all forms of gender-based violence so that DEC and parks employees connect with the public are better equipped to respond to incidents and assist individuals. who need help. By expanding the availability of assistance beyond the existing network of traditional service providers, survivors will know they can get help to access the resources they need.

The DEC operates 52 campgrounds and five day-use areas in the Adirondacks and Catskill Forest Preserves that offer a wide variety of visitor experiences which can be found at www.dec.ny.gov. While two DEC campgrounds opened earlier this spring — Wilmington Notch in Essex County on May 6 and Fish Creek in Franklin County on April 1 — most DEC campgrounds are opening this weekend on May 20. State Parks oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails and boat ramps, which are visited by 78 million people each year and can be found at parks.ny.gov. To make reservations, visit the ReserveAmerica website: https://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com.

The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence is the only executive-level state agency in the country dedicated to the issue of gender-based violence. The New York Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline provides confidential assistance 24/7 and is available in most languages: 800-942-6906 (call), 844-997-2121 (text) or @ opdv.ny.gov (chat). The Office of Victim Services also funds a network of over 212 community programs that provide direct services to victims of crime and their families. The programs also help any crime victim apply for compensation and other forms of assistance from the agency.