culturally-competent services for traditionally underserved groups. Services and referrals should not include mediation, or couples or family counseling in cases in which domestic abuse is identified. (See Guiding Principles, 1.i.)
f.Regardless of whether a legal proceeding of some kind will be initiated, criminal justice professionals and court staff should be prepared to assist victims in short-term risk assessment and safety planning.
In addition to providing information on victims' rights and options and making knowledgeable referrals to domestic violence service providers, this assistance entails providing or arranging for escorts and transportation to shelters or other places of safety. Criminal justice and legal professionals should be prepared to provide basic safety planning information on the premise that some victims may not, at any given point in time, choose to connect with a domestic violence program. (See Guiding Principles, 1.d.)
g.Interviews, whether at the scene of a domestic incident or elsewhere, should be conducted in a way that maximizes privacy and confidentiality.
In a preliminary investigation this means, to the greatest degree practicable, keeping parties to an incident out of each other's sight and sound lines. Children should be kept out of spaces in which their parents are being interviewed and specific areas for children should be designated, whenever possible. Follow-up interviews should be done as near to the time of an incident as possible. In accordance with §642 of the Executive Law, which specifies criteria for the fair treatment of crime victims, courts should provide separate waiting rooms for victims and other prosecution witnesses. Similarly, police departments, district attorneys' offices, presentment agencies, and probation and other community corrections agencies should provide settings in which private interviews can be conducted.
h.When investigation or interviewing indicates that weapons have been used, that their use has been threatened, or that they are possessed by a person who has previously been convicted of certain domestic violence misdemeanors, within the limits of their legal authority, law enforcement and legal professionals should take prompt action to effect the voluntary surrender of and/or seizure of such weapons.
Criminal justice professionals, judges, court personnel, probation, and other community corrections professionals should be fully knowledgeable about relevant state and federal law, including Title 18, U.S.C. § 922 (g) (8) and (g) (9), which amended the Gun Control Act of 1968 (see