We all know that being a victim of violence at the hands of an intimate partner is devastating. However, we have something unique in this community, because for victims of intimate partner (domestic) violence in Boulder County, this type of violence is at least mitigated by a dedicated county-wide effort to provide these victims with a network of support and to assure their access to that support.
As some of you know, about 30 years ago, following a string of domestic violence-related homicides in Boulder County, a committee was formed to create a model for handling domestic violence cases and better serving domestic violence victims and their families.
This led to the formation of the Domestic Abuse Prevention Project (DAPP), a Coordinated Community Response, which, in addition to reducing the number of deaths and injuries resulting from domestic violence, had two other key goals: to increase communication within the justice system and to improve interagency coordination for the delivery of services to victims following police-reported Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).
Out of DAPP, came DART, the Domestic Abuse Response Team – an incredible collaboration between local law enforcement agencies and SPAN. With this program officers connect community-based advocates with dv victims and their children to provide confidential support, services and resources immediately following police intervention, at a time when victims are most likely to accept and take advantage of this support. We’ve seen through this collaboration that by developing ways/protocol that assure victims receive short and long-term support services we can create better outcomes for victims.
This response protocol put in place by DAPP proved to be one of the most innovative and effective of its kind. Research done over the last several years is reaffirming the effectiveness of something that this community sensed the need for and took the steps to put into practice 30 years ago – that is, a Community-Coordinated Response with criminal justice personnel and a community Outreach Program. The research is showing that when victims of domestic violence (or sexual assault) receive confidential, community-based outreach following police intervention – outreach that addresses real life circumstances and consequences, specific needs in the context of victims’ lives, and is victim-centered, it leads to more positive outcomes with victims. These outcomes include increased safety and self-sufficiency and greater engagement with the criminal justice system. This is particularly true for people in marginalized communities who face increased barriers, tend to be more isolated and are, therefore, more vulnerable and more often targeted as victims of violence.
This program was truly cutting edge at the time of its inception, being one, if not the first, of its kind in the nation. And, again, its success could never have been achieved without the concern, commitment and collaboration of our District Attorney’s Office, and local Law Enforcement Agencies, and the partnerships forged between those agencies and victim service providers, such as SPAN, Safe Shelter, the OVA and MESA. This type of outreach is also being accomplished with law enforcement in Longmont through their implementation of a Triage Program.
This high caliber of response and service around domestic violence begins with awareness and commitment at the highest level and continues with the individual responding officer – where dedication to serving victims, understanding of dv dynamics, and messaging about what community outreach can offer – opens the door for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to receive this kind of support. It is officers like those being honored here today who have consistently demonstrated these qualities by providing a safe, supportive environment for victims who are reporting and reaching out. They are a critical piece in helping survivors of domestic violence get the support, assistance and resources needed to help them create a safer situation for themselves and for their families, thereby creating a safer community for us all.
Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN) would like to acknowledge the commendable response to domestic violence in this community, and to thank the law enforcement professionals who have helped to make this response what it is today.