New Protocol Yields Good Results…

When the police come out to a domestic call, it’s a chaotic time. The person who made the call is often traumatized and scared and hurting, and even the most helpful visit from police can leave the person rattled and trying to think of answers to hundreds of questions. What’s going to happen next with the police and courts? Am I going to get kicked out of my apartment because of the police call? What steps can I take to stay safe now? What about the kids? Am I going to have to take off work to go to court now? What decisions do I need to be making?

At the HOPE Center, we help people answer those questions. We know how the court systems work, and we know about other resources in the community that can help at times like this. We give support and encouragement to survivors as they work through many other details and questions, knowing that each survivor knows better than anyone else what will be helpful to her own situation.
We’ve always been answering these questions, but now, thanks to our new Blueprint Program Law Enforcement puts us in touch with survivors of domestic violence before they leave the scene of a domestic – any time day or night. Then our trained advocates can offer support and information at a time when it might be needed the most.

The Faribault Police Department, the Northfield Police Department or the Rice County Sherriff’s Department are all involved with this program. They call one of our trained advocates as they are leaving the scene so we can be available to talk through a survivors’ options even after the police are gone.

Although we are grateful to work with Law Enforcement in this way, we are still independent of them and the court system. Our services are confidential, which means that we don’t report information back to the system unless our client (the survivor) asks us to do that. As always, we are there for survivors first and foremost.

Still, we have found during the first several months of this program, that this new approach has helped survivors communicate better with the police and the court system. Sometimes in the chaos of the police call, important information about a situation doesn’t get passed along. We can recognize that during our conversation with a survivor and help her take the steps she needs to take to communicate with the system. In our experience, we’ve seen survivors being more active in the criminal justice system since we started talking with them as the police leave.

Not all survivors feel like they can work closely with the system, and prosecution sometimes goes ahead without that participation because the state (not the victim) decides whether to press charges in cases of domestic violence. We still work with all survivors, accompanying them through the process and helping them understand what each step means. We are always here to offer support and help with problem solving.

We are so excited about our new collaboration with Law Enforcement and look forward to seeing how it can help ease the pain of domestic violence in Rice County over time.

Written by HOPE Center Volunteer Elizabeth O’Sullivan
You can find more of her writing on her website: