What We Do
Sheriff Assist is a program provided by the New York State Sheriffs’ Institute and funded by the Office of Victim Services. New York State Sheriffs have been providing these critical notification systems since 1998.
The Order of Protection Notification System and Inmate Release Notification System are free services offered to crime victims and their families and often used as part of their safety plans. Anyone of any gender, race or age can become a crime victim at any time. That’s why NYSSI works with victims’ advocacy groups, law enforcement agencies, and courts systems throughout the state to train and provide education on the systems so they can cooperatively help crime victims stay safe.
Victim Services Advisory Board
Sheriff Ernest Cutting, Chenango County
Chenango County Sheriff Ernest Cutting became Chairman of the NYS Victims’ Advisory Board in 2017. Sheriff Cutting began his career with the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office on January 1, 1987 and rose through the ranks, holding the positions of Deputy, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Jail Administrator and Undersheriff. He was appointed to the position of Sheriff in June 2009 and elected to his first four-year term the following November. Sheriff Cutting received the NYS Deputy Sheriff’s “Officer of the Year Award” for disarming an emotionally disturbed man committing an armed robbery in Chenango County. Under Sheriff Cutting, his office maintains accreditation of the Law Enforcement, Corrections, Emergency Communication/911 and Civil Divisions.
Sheriff Juan Figueroa, Ulster County
Juan Figueroa has always been moved by a sense of service to people in his community and country. The son of Puerto Rican parents who immigrated to New York, Sheriff Figueroa grew up in the Bronx before his family moved upstate. Figueroa joined the US Marine Corps out of high school and was stationed overseas where he learned the importance of racial diversity and respect, regardless of personal differences. After active duty with the Marines for four years, Figueroa served 18 years with the Marine Corps Reserve. In the early 1990s he was in charge of deploying over 150 Marines and support requirements during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Figueroa became a trooper with the New York State Police in 1988, patrolling roads in Ulster County. During his 25-year term with the State Police, he acted as a Police Academy Instructor and Field Training Officer, then as an Investigator with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Figueroa believes in upholding the law while working with the community and applying proactive and sensible approaches to pressing issues.
Director of Domestic Violence Services at Unity House
Tabitha Dunn first came to UH in 2001 to provide babysitting for children while their mothers attended counseling meetings. In her nearly seventeen years at Unity House, Ms. Dunn’s love for children has turned into a passion for serving victims and survivors of dating and domestic violence. Having worked in a myriad of positions during her tenure including Overnight Counselor, Case Manager, Family Counselor, Assistant Service Director and now Service Director, Ms. Dunn is well acquainted with the needs of the program and the people it serves.
As an avid supporter of inclusion and prevention work as a key to combatting domestic and dating violence , Ms. Dunn regularly provides training and education programs at a wide range of community organizations and educational institutions. Additionally, Ms. Dunn has presented at the American Psychological Association international conference on the co-morbidity of interpersonal violence, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance use. Ms. Dunn holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from SUNY Albany and a conditional license as a Mental Health Counselor.
Dr. Lisa O’Connor
Deputy CEO and Chief Programs Officer at Safe Horizons
Dr. Lisa A. O’Connor was promoted to the roles of Deputy CEO and Chief Program Officer as of March 2021. Lisa joined Safe Horizon in 2013 as the Deputy Chief Program Officer and was later promoted to Chief Program Officer. She is a psychologist by training and has spent most of her career in service to children and families impacted by violence. During her time at Safe Horizon, Lisa has led efforts to address the needs of young men of color who have been harmed by violence; implemented client-centered, trauma-informed practices that recognize the impact of racism in the lives of survivors; and led the successful fulfillment of a five-year strategic plan.
Prior to Safe Horizon, Lisa spent almost a decade in child welfare developing and implementing new program models and policies, first as an Assistant Commission at the Administration for Children’s Services and later as Vice President for Children and Family Services at the New York Foundling. In these roles, she designed innovative programs that brought evidence-based models to preventive services and for children in foster care and residential placement. She also developed policy and specialized foster care programming to help reduce child welfare’s use of residential placements for young people approaching adulthood.
Lisa has devoted most of her career to working on behalf of vulnerable populations. She has provided direct service to families in crisis: those experiencing family violence, impacted by poverty, and involved in systems. She received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University and a BA in Psychology from Smith College.
James B. Ritts, Esq.
Ontario County District Attorney
Jim Ritts was elected as the District Attorney for Ontario County in 2017 and became the District Attorney in 2018. He started work as an Ontario County Assistant District Attorney in July, 1999, having moved to New York from Ohio in 1997. Jim has been a prosecutor for over 23 years in New York and additionally prosecuted in Lake County, Ohio for one year. Jim has worked as an Assistant Public Defender in Lake County, Ohio from 1988-1993 and in Yates County, New York from 1998-1999. Jim was Capital Defense qualified in Ohio. He has been involved in felony prosecutions with a particular interest in Special Victims prosecutions including Child Abuse, Sexual Assault, and Domestic Violence. Jim is the Chairman for the Board of Directors for the Child Advocacy Center of the Finger Lakes.
The Ontario County District Attorney’s Office, due to the Office of Victim Services grant, has three full-time advocates, a case manager, and facility dog, Juno. This amazing staff is able to provide immediate support and referrals to victims through the criminal justice process as well as after a case is resolved through our case manager.