Westchester To Improve Safety Measures For Caseworkers After Woman Attacked While Working

In an announcement on Thursday, June 6, Westchester County officials announced the Department of Social Services would offer enhanced security escorts for staff while they conduct community and home visits. 

The increased safety measures follow the attack of caseworker Maria Coto on Tuesday, May 14, when she was assaulted by a suspect identified as Haseem Jenkins inside a Peekskill apartment on South Street while making contact with clients, according to county officials and Peekskill Police.

The attack left Coto, age 56, with severe injuries. She remains hospitalized, officials said. 

Following the incident, Jenkins was charged with attempted murder and assault. 

County officials hope the increased security measures will prevent similar incidents from happening again. 

“This unforeseen and tragic incident has prompted us to take immediate action to protect our personnel from further harm while they perform their duties on behalf of the County of Westchester,” County Executive George Latimer said. 

He continued, “DSS staff perform essential work within the community, we respect them and we want to do all we can to keep them safe. Our thoughts are with Maria Coto and her family during this difficult time.”

Although the Department of Social Services has already provided escort services, the new initiative will increase their availability to cover more visits and programs. The services will be provided on a case-by-case basis by Century Protective Services, Inc. 

“Our employees perform the most selfless work, and we want to ensure their safety every step of the way,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Leonard Townes. 

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