This week, MPD will be adding a new component to investigations of domestic violence. Officers have been trained to complete a domestic violence danger assessment questionnaire which will be directed toward victims. The assessment consists of 15 questions. Research indicates that many of these questions, if answered in the affirmative, are strong predictors for the potential of escalated violence in the future. The findings which led to this questionnaire were developed by researchers from John Hopkins University School of Nursing (Dr. Nancy Glass and Dr. Jacquelyn C. Campbell). Nationwide, the use of this questionnaire is gaining momentum and was recently covered in a CBS news story capturing its use by the Oklahoma City Police Department. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/police-use-new-tool-to-help-protect-domestic-violence-victims/
The completion of the questionnaire will also prove useful in raising the awareness level of victims as to the potential dangers that may be encountered. In this sense, the assessment not only serves as a red flag for potential violence; it also creates an opportunity for the responding officers to share safety information and have victims start to think about contingency planning.
Our officers already provide numerous safety suggestions that include tips to protect themselves personally, in their homes, when at work, keeping their children safe, mentoring them on financial concerns and what to do should they be encountered while in a vehicle. Officers also use these encounters to discuss community resources that are available to assist victims of domestic violence. The more information that can be gleaned and shared, the greater likelihood that we can keep victims safer and subsequent prosecutions will be strengthened owing to the additional insights learned.
We are proud of our working relationship with Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) and are grateful for their role in providing follow-up referrals and resources for victims. The dedicated professionals at DAIS have created an effective partnership with MPD. This partnership is essential as we work to eliminate domestic violence in our community. It is sometimes said (and sadly, often true) that effective intervention in domestic abuse cases is tantamount to homicide prevention. One only needs to look at past homicides committed in Dane County to realize the substance behind this fact.
The following are some useful community resources that officers frequently utilize in contacts with citizens we encounter looking for assistance:
• Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS), (608) 251-4445, www.abuseintervention.org
• United Way 2-1-1 (First Call For Help) Dial "211"
• Elder Abuse Hotline, (608) 261-9933
• Freedom Inc: Refugee Family Strengthening, (608) 661-4088
• Parent Stress Line, (608) 241-2221
• Rape Crisis Center, (608) 251-7273; www.danecountyrcc.org
• Unidos Against Domestic Violence, (608) 256-9195
• Dane County Human Services, (608) 242-6200; Dane County Child Protective Services,
(608) 261-5437; after hours, (608) 255-6067
• Dane County Non-Emergency Police, (608) 255-2345
• Dane County District Attorney's Office, (608) 266-4211
• Dane County District Attorney's Office Domestic Violence Unit, (608) 266-9003
• 24/7 Emergency Mental Health Crisis Line, (608) 280-2600
• Salvation Army Emergency Family Shelter, (608) 256-2321; Housing Crisis Hotline, (855) 510-2323
This blog was authored by Captain Brian Ackeret