Domestic Violence Unit Programs
Domestic Violence Intervention Project (DVIP)
The DVIP is an early intervention program designed to coordinate the efforts of police, advocates, court personnel and batterer's intervention programs. Specially trained advocates from local battered women's programs (NELCWIT & Safe Passage) are immediately available following a domestic violence incident. Police departments, in Franklin and Hampshire County and the Town of Athol, contact an on-call advocate who in turn contacts the victim. Advocates offer victims immediate support, safety information and referrals for counseling, shelter and/or legal advocacy. Representatives from the local batterer's intervention program (Moving Forward) are also available to meet with offenders in court at the time of arraignment.Offenders receive information about their responsibilities under the law and available batterer’s intervention groups.
Abused Women’s Active Response Emergency (AWARE)
The AWARE project provides victims of domestic violence with in-home personal safety alarms. Identified participants are given a silent alarm pendant allowing them priority police response in a domestic violence emergency. Referrals for an alarm are made to the project coordinator who then meets with potential recipients and reviews the contract agreement to be signed by the victim. In order to receive an alarm, recipients are strongly encouraged to have an active restraining order against the abuser and to cooperate with the District Attorney’s Office and the police should the use of the alarm result in an arrest.
Safety & Accountability Audit Project
The Northwestern District Attorney’s office initiated its first safety audit in 2002 as a way to review and strengthen our system response to domestic violence. Since that time the audit teams, made up of law enforcement, advocates and court personnel, have performed three audits over a ten year period. These audits have focused on our domestic violence response from the perspective of police/dispatch, courts and prosecution and probation and batterer’s intervention. The overarching goal of each audit is to identify strategies and create policies that will increase victim safety and offender accountability.
The audit process has resulted in the creation and distribution of many products that have greatly benefited the district. These products include a comprehensive domestic violence policy for police officers, a checklist for writing strong police reports, a dispatcher checklist for handling domestic violence calls, training DVDs outlining best practices for police and prosecutors and a charging booklet to assist police in bringing charges in domestic violence cases. The audit also resulted in the creation of the district’s first high risk team program.
Domestic Violence High Risk Program
In an effort to reduce domestic violence homicides and to identify the most serious, repeat offenders, high risk teams in each county have been established. Evidence based research shows us that a set standard of high risk behaviors, perpetrated alone or together, substantially increases the level of risk for victims. By identifying high risk behaviors and sharing case information, the teams make recommendations that maximize offender accountability and safety for victims.
Domestic Violence Task Force
The task force meets monthly and offers training and networking opportunities for people working to end domestic and sexual violence. Outreach campaigns have been organized to highlight October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the White Ribbon Campaign is organized annually in local high schools and colleges.