We were pleased to be asked to present at the 2nd annual Innovations in Domestic and Sexual Violence Research and Practice Conference: Promising Practices for a Peaceful North Carolina. We were asked to join a panel including Cindy Brady, Director of the Family Justice Center of Alamance County, Sabrina Garcia, domestic violence/sexual assault specialist at Chapel Hill Police Department, and Amily McCool of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The panel was tasked with discussing the latest in research and practice on criminal justice responses to domestic and sexual violence.
We presented a brief overview the High Point Police Department’s Offender Focused Domestic Violence Initiative which represents for the first time an application of the focused deterrence strategy to combat the problem of domestic violence. Focusing on the offender is a novel shift away from the traditional manner of dealing with domestic violence which has traditionally focused more on the victim. The focused deterrence approach is an evidence-based approach to dealing with criminal behavior. It puts offenders on notice that their behavior will no longer be tolerated, it strips their anonymity thereby making domestic violence no longer a “hidden crime” and it provides certain, swift, and severe consequences for continued domestic violence behavior. By notifying the offender of the new focus on domestic violence and that law enforcement owns the problem of domestic violence, the offender is allowed to make a rational choice as to whether he or she chooses to continue with their violent behavior. The law enforcement message is coupled with a message from the community offering support services if needed.
Thus far, evaluation results are showing that offender behavior is changing. Only 7% of notified offenders have reoffended with a domestic violence offense. Victim injuries are expected to decrease over time as arrests for domestic violence decrease. And, most notably perhaps, is the decrease in domestic-related homicides that High Point has seen since the strategy has been implemented. A full copy of the presentation can be found here: Innovations 2014 Conference Presentation FINAL
On February 26, Guilio Dattero, Project Manager for Project Safe Rockingham County, presented to the Community Resource Coordinator (CRC) Network about formulating successful media strategies. Guilio has had a very effective media campaign in Rockingham County, making use of print, TV, and radio to spread the word to the community about the strategy and its effects on suppressing violent crime and changing the lives of offenders involved in the initiative.
Guilio offered several questions that one should ask about their own media strategy to evaluate success. 1) What am I doing to sell my [focused deterrence/PSN] strategy? You must “tell and sell” your strategy. 2) Is my media strategy consistent? You must put information out on a regular basis and develop a working relationship with your media partners. 3) Is my media strategy comprehensive? You should seek to make use of multiple media outlets. Morning shows on local TV or radio are sometimes overlooked and can be easier to get booked due to the timing. No bit of media space is too minimal. Make use of dormant periods between call-ins/notifications to continue to talk about the strategy. 4) Is my media program calculating? Make strategic decisions about the timing of articles. Talk about the results of call-ins/notifications. Keep track of how many offenders reoffended after notification to be able to share this information with your community through media.
Click here an example of a local TV spot about Project Safe Rockingham County.
Guilio shared a list of qualities that reporters look for in a media article. He reached out to a local reporter in Rockingham County with whom he has a solid working relationship and she offered the following tips. 1) Keep articles short and concise. Limit the article to 3-4 paragraphs. 2) Put the most pertinent in formation at the top of the article. Don’t bury it in the middle or save it until the end of the article. Put it in the first sentence, or at a minimum put it in the first paragraph. Sometimes, the first paragraph is all that reporters have time to read before deciding which articles make it into the publication. 3) Make submissions timely. In other words, provide a reporter with enough time to get the article published (usually a week ahead of time before a particular event). 4) Follow up with a particular reporter. If you have submitted an article, make contact with the specific reporter you’re working with to make sure they received your submission and to determine what additional information they may need.
Finally, Guilio shared his own TOP 10 list of strategies that has led to his media success. 1) Make a personal introduction at your local media office. This is a business relationship. 2) Picture often sell articles. Always have a camera with you and take picture of events and meetings. 3) Make sure your articles are well-written and thorough. Have another person read it over. 4) Take advantage of your local paper’s editorial commentary page to talk about your focused deterrence/PSN strategy. 5) Take advantage of early morning TV news shows to talk about your strategy. 6) Make use of nonconventional advertising such as banners and brochures. See the Project Safe Rockingham County informational brochure here: PSRC Brochure. 7) Explore 2-3 areas of your focused deterrence/PSN strategy that you do well and consider how you can sell those by putting a catchy spin on them. 8) Put a human interest spin on stories, such as telling about offender success stories. 9) Mention your community partners to give them credit and positive media attention for their work in the focused deterrence/PSN strategy. 10) Keep the media informed on a regular basis. Invite the media to events on a regular basis and tell them why it would be important for them to come to these events.
We greatly appreciate Guilio’s willingness to share his expertise in this area and we thank those who attended the CRC meeting and also thank the USAO for allowing us to make use of their videoconferencing capabilities. This work is very important and the partnerships and information exchange among those doing the work are invaluable to the work’s success. We will look to schedule our next CRC meeting in May 2014.
We had a great CRC meeting last week with guest speaker Emily Carmody, LCSW at North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness. There is great information within these slides and Emily’s contact information is at the end if you want further information.