Location: Tulare County Board of Supervisors conference room
Incident Date: 10/19/17
Incident Time: 1400 hours
Posted by: Media Relations
New domestic violence team to help prevent injury, death
During a press conference Oct. 19, 2017, Sheriff Boudreaux announced a new tool to determine if a domestic violence call for service may later escalate to a homicide or a near death incident.
Special training and collaboration between local agencies aims to reduce near death or fatal domestic violence incidents. Partner agencies will identify cases that may be escalating toward a homicide and will design immediate interventions to prevent further violence.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with Family Services of Tulare County, the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office and the Tulare County Probation Department to roll out a new collaborative model using the Domestic Violence High Risk Team (DVHRT) approach, which was created by the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center (JGCC) in Massachusetts.
“We are the first in the western United States to implement a Domestic Violence High Risk Team from the research-based model at the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center,” Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said.
The JGCC, a leader in the movement to end domestic violence, created the DVHRT model following a domestic violence homicide in 2002. The model has become a nationally recognized domestic violence homicide prevention framework, identified by the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women as a promising practice in the field. Since the JGCC implemented the DVHRT Model in 2005, there have been no reported domestic violence homicides in communities participating in their DVHRT.
The DVHRT in Tulare County hopes for similar results, Sheriff Boudreaux said.
The DVHRT strategies include:
1) Early identification of high-risk cases through risk assessment
2) Engagement of a multi-disciplinary team
3) Ongoing monitoring and containment of high-risk offenders
4) Victim services
During its inception in Tulare County, DVHRT partners received customized training and technical assistance from the JGCC to replicate the DVHRT model.
“By analyzing the history of an abusive relationship using a research-based approach, we hope to significantly decrease the threat of violence to domestic violence victims,” Sheriff Boudreaux said. “Simply put -- if it’s predictable, it’s preventable. When we get a high-risk case, we are committed to arresting the suspect and helping the victim.”
If cases can be identified that are escalating towards a homicide, there are opportunities for the DVHRT to intervene.
“Research shows that the escalation of domestic violence to a lethal level follows an identifiable pattern with identifiable indicators,” said Caity Meader, Executive Director of Family Services of Tulare County. “If these highly dangerous cases can be identified early on, we have opportunities to intervene. Research also shows that community-based domestic violence services such as Karen’s House protects victims from being killed. We need to reach victims who may not be walking in our doors for whatever reason. This is lifesaving work.”
District Attorney Tim Ward said the vicious cycle of domestic violence tears at the fabric of families and has no place in the home.
“Those who abuse will be held accountable to the fullest extent,” he said. “If you’re a victim, don’t hesitate to reach out to those who can help. There’s no excuse for abuse.”
How it works
Tulare County Sheriff’s detectives and deputies received training on administration of the Danger Assessment for Law Enforcement (DA-LE), an on-scene risk assessment tool used when responding to calls involving intimate partner violence.
Since Oct. 1, 2017, deputies have started to administer the DA-LE with victims. The answers victims give to these questions determine the severity of the risk that the case may escalate to a lethal or near-lethal assault.
If the case is determined to be high risk, the High Risk Team is notified and initiates special protocols for case review and coordinated services. The Sheriff’s domestic violence detective and Family Services of Tulare County’s victim advocate provide immediate follow-up with the victim. The case is submitted to the DVHRT, which meets twice a month to ensure all parts of the system are working with the same information in real time to maximize victim safety and offender accountability.
In addition, Family Services of Tulare County’s victim advocates have been trained to administer a more thorough Danger Assessment tool with survivors of domestic violence who are seeking services but who may or may not already be involved with law enforcement. With the victim’s consent, Family Services can submit the cases to the DVHRT for review.
Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell of Johns Hopkins University, the leading researcher in the field of intimate partner homicide, researched and developed the DA-LE and the Danger Assessment and provided the certification training for the Danger Assessment tool.
Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 16, deputies responded to 19 reports of domestic violence. Of the 19, eight are considered high risk and were submitted to the DVHRT. One victim refused to answer the questions.
“The Domestic Violence High Risk Team improves communication between partnering agencies to make a difference in the lives of victims in Tulare County,” Sheriff Boudreaux said.
Sheriff Mike Boudreaux announced that the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office is the recipient of a federal domestic violence grant in the amount of $450,000. Funding for the 3-year grant, named the Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women Improving Criminal Justice Responses, began Oct. 1.