Legal Services of the Hudson Valley opening office in Rockland

Coming to a civil courtroom in Rockland is Legal Services of the Hudson Valley.

The non-profit legal organization is opening its second-floors doors on Wednesday evening with a reception at 7a Perlman Drive in Spring Valley, between the Spring Valley Marketplace and Pascack Road.

The office marks the eighth one set up by Legal Services, whose history dates 40-plus years. It has offices in Orange and Westchester counties, as well.

From the organization’s news release:

“Since 1967, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley has provided support, advocacy and civil legal representation to poor and low-income families and individuals in Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, Sullivan, Ulster and Rockland Counties,” said Barbara Finkelstein, the agency’s chief executive officer.

“In our 45+ year history, we have been able to provide free non-criminal legal assistance to nearly 300,000 clients,” she says. “Because of Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, both New York State and local county governments have saved millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to combat homelessness, abuse, hunger and other societal harms which can result from an absence of affordable justice.”

Legal Services of the Hudson Valley works closely with community organizations, elected officials and other agencies to let the residents of the lower Hudson Valley know they are not alone and will have access to legal representation and support guaranteed by law, she said.

Legal Services is expecting dignitaries at its opening – scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Those invited included the county’s state delegation and Congress members, as well as local lawyers.

The organization will join services like Legal Aid, which also provides representation for the low income people in civil cases, Family Court and on housing issues. Rockland residents strapped for cash and facing criminal charges can get legal representation from the Public Defender’s Office and special 18b panel of private attorneys.

UPDATE: Rockland officials making plans for sex trafficking, domestic violence, Super Bowl

Gearing up for the Super Bowl in February, Rockland law enforcement officials and advocates for women will put human sex trafficking first and 10 on their game plan.

During a news conference at 2:30 p.m. (today) Monday, they (will) outlined their plans prior to the National Football League’s showcase game at MetLife Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands – the home of the Jets and the Giants.2013 STOP FEAR Press Conference 020

A main issue for law enforcement is that major sporting events like the Super Bowl have attracted the sex trade industries. The majority of domestic minor sex trafficking victims are 12 to 15-year-olds who are runaways or who have been abducted and are often forced into compliance with violence, threats and drugs, they said.

In effort to prepare law enforcement and educate the public, Rockland advocates will host a special training session on Oct. 30 for first-responders, hotel and motel staff and the general public called, “Human Trafficking and the Super Bowl: What We Need to Know in Rockland.”

The session will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Good Samaritan Hospital by the Polaris Project, which is involved with combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

The STOP F.E.A.R. Coalition, established on 1986 to respond to domestic violence, already has laid the groundwork for the training on human sex trafficking during a meeting on Sept. 25.

“As a county we have done an excellent job creating a coordinated response to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Kiera Pollock, deputy executive director of programs and services at Center for Safety & Change, and co-chair of the Human Trafficking Sub-Committee of the STOP F.E.A.R. Coalition.

“Now we must put our efforts into addressing the multitude of needs that survivors—both minors and adults—of human trafficking may need in Rockland especially in light of the upcoming Super Bowl,” she said.

District Attorney Thomas Zugibe and Clarkstown Police Chief Michael Sullivan said law enforcement is gearing up to ensure children are not exploited and take an aggressive approach in Rockland, where local hotels and motels expect to get business from people attending the marquee event in New Jersey.

The 16th Annual STOP F.E.A.R. conference on Nov. 1 will focus on human trafficking and the Super Bowl.

Continuing the theme of Human Trafficking and the Super Bowl, the training, “Preparing for National Security Events: A Perspective on Human Trafficking for Investigators and Front Line Officers,” is geared towards criminal justice professionals. The featured speakers will be Chris Bray from the Phoenix Police Department, an expert on child trafficking, and Eric Pauley from the FBI”s “Innocence Lost Project”, an expert on investigating all matters involving sexual exploitation of children as keynote speakers.

The news conference today at the county office building on New Hempstead Road in New City will include District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell, and officials of the Rockland Center for Safety & Change, the former Rockland Family Shelter.

The advocates also will promote October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month – which has been celebrated nationwide for 32 years.

Additional Domestic Violence Awareness Month Events include:

– Oct. 24: Walk with me, a silent student-led procession at 12 p.m. at Rockland Community College, room 3214

– Nov. 10: 34th Annual Harvest Auction, 5:00 p.m. New York Country Club, New Hempstead; $90 per person, Silent Auction with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres; life auction with dinner and dessert, RSVP for the Auction or to complete a journal ad visit

The Center for Safety & Change is a non-profit. grass-roots organization serving survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and all crime victims. The center is located at 9 Johnsons Lane, New City. The 24-hour hotline number is 845-634-3344.

PHOTO: Carolyn Fish, the longtime leader of Rockland Center for Safety & Change, formerly Rockland Family Shelter, accepts proclamation from Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef