Barbershop and hair and nail salon workers in New York City would be required to take a class to identify signs of domestic violence—a black eye, a bruise, a patch of missing hair—under legislation co-sponsored by Bronx Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Jr. The Councilman based his draft bill on similar guidelines established last year in Chicago, and says he's inspired by the close relationships that already exist between clients and their hairdressers, nail technicians and barbers along Southern Boulevard in Longwood and Third Avenue in the South Bronx.

"The purpose of this legislation is simple—to provide victims of domestic violence with another potential outlet to receive the support and resources they may need," Salamanca said in a statement this week, following a City Council hearing on the bill. "Cosmetologists are often trusted members of our community, and we'll be working with them to craft this legislation into something that could be a potential lifesaver."

The draft bill would amend the city charter, requiring all state-licensed cosmetologists to take "at least one hour" of domestic violence training every two years. The Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence would host the sessions, and provide hairdressers with contact information for local domestic violence nonprofits, including New Destiny Housing, which provides housing to domestic violence victims, and Family Justice Centers in each borough.

"By offering information and resources in an informal, non-stigmatized setting, this bill will encourage more victims of domestic violence to get the help they need," predicted New Destiny Director Carol Corden, testifying in favor of the bill this week. The Professional Beauty Association, an Arizona-based trade group that describes itself as the nation's "largest organization of salon professionals," has also endorsed the bill.

Ryan Monell, Salamanca's policy director, said hairdressers could be an approachable and trustworthy resource, especially in immigrant communities where New Yorkers are wary of interacting with law enforcement or the courts for fear of coming into contact with an emboldened federal immigration apparatus. A report out this week from the Immigrant Defense Project found that 45 percent of immigrant advocates and attorneys surveyed in June have worked with immigrants who did not file a court petition for fear of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Forty-eight percent have clients who are fearful of calling the police.

Domestic violence incidents, including homicides, increased in 2016 over 2015, and have remained stubbornly high in New York City as other major crimes have dwindled.

"In many instances this probably does not involve a police response," Monell said, of the interaction between client and hairdresser. "There are lots of cases that start with a domestic abuse nonprofit that can identify resources and potentially get someone help before going to the police department."

But some community organizers say they're wary of any bill that involves NYPD input. (Salamanca is planning to host a roundtable on the bill, with representatives from the NYPD, as well as the cosmetology industry, Mayor's Office, and Office of Consumer Affairs.)

"Any legislation that would potentially have a working class, low-wage working force interact with the NYPD would be a mistake," said Shannon Jones, a co-founder of Why Accountability, a grassroots police-reform group based in the Bronx. "There's no reason community groups can't do this themselves. And what is the penalty for non-compliance?"

"There is a wealth of experience and knowledge that exists within us," Jones added. "The community is equipped to control themselves. Everything does not need to be a program or a 501-C3."

Monell acknowledged a "huge concern" that the penalty for missed classes, currently set at $250, could prove burdensome. "We don't want to make it any more difficult than it already is to work this job," he said. "We have to strike a balance."

"I don't think that's fair," said Zulena Jones, the owner of Zu Stylez Spa on Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights, of the fine. "They would have to come to the salon, not make me have to go [to them]. I wouldn't do it."

There are also the logistics of enforcing a state license at the city level. The Mayor's Office emphasized this, saying the city isn't in a position to enforce a training requirement.

According to City Hall, the office of domestic violence prevention conducted over 125 outreach events at nail salons, eyebrow threading shops and beauty supply stores between 2012 and 2015. "We welcome the opportunity to do more training with and outreach to salons and cosmetologists," said spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie.

State legislation introduced this spring by Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal would avoid pitfalls in Salamanca's bill, her office argues. Still in the planning stages, Rosenthal's bill would be non-punitive, and would apply state-wide.

"Frankly I don't see the wisdom or the need to penalize hair stylists financially," Rosenthal stated to Gothamist Friday. "It makes no sense. This isn't about compelling hair stylists to do something against their will, it's about providing vital resources to professionals who are often on the front lines and can help save lives."

Jones, of Zu Stylez, said that she's close with all of her clients, and doesn't see the need for a formal class. "What's the purpose of going to a class, then?" she said. "That we care—that's a natural instinct."