BEYOND THE PROSECUTION
During Fitzpatrick's tenure as District Attorney he has made many contributions to the community outside and beyond his responsibilities as Onondaga County’s chief prosecutor. He has developed programs and forged relationships that advocate for victims and improve safety in the community.
As District Attorney, Fitzpatrick works closely with Onondaga County communities to ensure safety and educate our youth. He has incorporated several programs that are integral parts of his administration. Program F.U.T.U.R.E. (Furthering Understanding and Tolerance Using our Resources in Education) is one. Members of the office are assigned to a fifth grade class in a school within the county, where they visit on a regular basis. The goal of the program is to teach the students about the criminal justice system, laws, rules and consequences for their actions. Each member of the office works with the teachers to give students a positive role model and a better understanding of the criminal justice system. Program F.U.T.U.R.E. also gives every child an understanding of the evils of bias and hate related crime. Since its inception in 1992, this Program has touched the lives of over 25,000 children in Onondaga County.
DA Fitzpatrick has worked with the Boys & Girls Club to provide funding through a Federal grant to continue after school programs and has assisted YEOP Little League and YEOP winter basketball.
A trademark of Fitzpatrick's administration has been building partnerships with corporations and human service agencies in order to combat crime with the utmost efficiency possible. This office is one of four nationwide sites selected for an U.S. Department of Justice grant for fighting youth violence. Together with several other community groups, he continually searches for innovative ways to deal with this problem such as Project SAFE, a collaborative effort with the U.S. Attorney’s office, and the Violence Intervention & Prevention Program that involves the County Executive’s Office as well as the Mayor of the City of Syracuse.
Violence Intervention & Prevention Program (VIPP) is a collaboration developed in 2003 as an expansion of the Partnership to Reduce Juvenile Gun Violence that was initiated in 1996. Its objective is to counter escalating youth violence in the City of Syracuse by developing strategies that can be implemented in the areas of gun suppression, juvenile justice, law enforcement/community communication, grassroots mobilization, public information, education and positive opportunities. VIPP offers programs and assistance in the areas of education, job readiness and employment, leadership and summer camps, to name a few, for youths aged 14 - 21. When it began in 1996, it was an agency of the Syracuse City government, but it was realized that it needed to evolve into a separate entity with its own governing board and advisory committee.
The program is a combined effort of law enforcement and government officials and community leaders. Funding for VIPP is provided by federal, state and local governments (including the District Attorney's Office), grants and foundations.
In the Fall of 1995, District Attorney Fitzpatrick created Project Safe Schools. This is designed to reduce weapons brought into the schools. Students are encouraged to call a toll-free telephone number with specific information regarding the weapon. All calls are anonymous. A fifty-dollar reward is provided for information and retrieval of a weapon, two hundred dollars for a handgun. Since its inception, more than 200 weapons have been recovered from the schools .
From the beginning of his administration, District Attorney Fitzpatrick has always maintained that his office speaks for those who cannot. In his first week in office, Mr. Fitzpatrick created the Special Victims Bureau, which handles all cases involving domestic violence and sexual assault. The assistant district attorneys and investigators assigned to this Bureau are specially trained and experienced in handling these types of cases, particularly those involving children. Currently, the U.S. Department of Justice is using the Special Victims Bureau as a model for dealing with statutory rape across the nation. Because of the strength of this Bureau, District Attorney Fitzpatrick has led the way in creating a combined Abused Persons Unit for all police agencies in Onondaga County. Additionally, he is proactive in working with legislators to create laws that protect crime victims, particularly women and children. With state funding from the NYS Crime Victims Board, the Office of the District Attorney created a Victim Assistance Program,which makes available two trained social workers who are on call 24 hours a day to assist crime victims and their families. Mr. Fitzpatrick also helped integrate Domestic Violence Court and Family Court.
Because of his concern for women and children, Mr. Fitzpatrick implemented Project A.W.A.R.E. (Abused Women's Activated Response Emergency) in conjunction with ADT Security Systems. Implemented in 1995, ADT provides a home security system for the most at-risk women. These women are also provided cellular phones programmed to automatically call 911 in case of the imminent threat of harm.
DA Fitzpatrick develops innovative programs and collaborates with local law enforcement officials to make our community safe.
Project P.R.O.U.D. (Prosecutors Response to Offenders Using Drugs) is an alternative to incarceration for non-violent drug offenders. Defendants are required to enter a drug rehabilitation program in lieu of traditional means of prosecution. This significantly cuts down on the burden for taxpayers and places a renewed, productive citizen back into the community paying taxes and hopefully leading a drug and crime free life. This is the only Upstate New York District Attorney's Office currently administering this type of program.
Mr. Fitzpatrick formulated D.I.R.T. (Drug Interdiction Response Team) for the purpose of developing cases against mid and upper level narcotics traffickers. This team has also succeeded in enhancing cooperation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the NYS Attorney General's Office, as well as local and statewide police agencies.
District Attorney Fitzpatrick has initiated several pilot programs for the rest of New York State. In July 2001, along with New York State Supreme Court Judge James C. Tormey, this office began Community Court, which handles "quality of life" crimes in the City of Syracuse. The long-term goal will be to initiate this program throughout Onondaga County. In addition, Mr. Fitzpatrick’s office has been selected to pilot several programs such as one for Workers’ Compensation Fraud, Victim Restitution and is the first to get off the ground J.E.T. (Joint Enforcement Team) which vigorously pursues monies owed by "dead-beat dads". The DA's office has collected more than $750,000 from Dead Beat Dads that do not meet their financial obligations.