Our partners in Statesville/Iredell Couty held their first-ever call-in for domestic violence offenders on Tuesday, September 23, 2014. According to Capt. Dan Miglin of the Statesville Police Department, there were some 2,832 cases of domestic violence investigated in Iredell County in 2013. Statesville/Iredell modeled their initiative after High Point’s Offender Focused Domestic Violence Initiative. The North Carolina Network for Safe Communities has been in partnership with the High Point Police Department since the planning stages of their domestic violence strategy and been in partnership with Statesville/Iredell since 2009 in assisting them with implementation of their initial focused deterrence strategy to combat gang violence.
With the domestic violence focused deterrence strategy, offenders with requisite records for domestic violence offenses are called in for a face-to-face meeting with the community, law enforcement, and resource partners to hear one clear, unified message: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS WRONG AND IT WILL NO LONGER BE TOLERATED.
The domestic violence call-in is similar to the chronic offender and gang/group call-ins which Statesville/Iredell has used in the past to send a stern message to violent offenders. However, the messaging is changed to be specific to the domestic violence offender. Offenders are educated about the potential prosecutorial levers that exist to use against domestic violence offenders in both the state and federal systems. They are warned that if they choose to reoffend with domestic violence after the call-in meeting, then law enforcement will follow up with swift, certain, and severe consequences. A prior victim of domestic violence spoke to offenders about the horrible consequences that their behavior has on children reared in homes where they witness domestic violence. Moral voice speakers from the community offered a message of support to help offenders with issues that may be related to their use of violence, but the support was backed with a firm statement that domestic violence is wrong.
Offenders’ anonymity was stripped and their behavior was brought to the forefront of both law enforcement and the community during the call-in. Domestic violence is no longer a secret in Statesville/Iredell County and partners are taking a clear stand against it through implementation of the domestic violence focused deterrence strategy. We wish them the best of luck and applaud their efforts!
Sites throughout NC are taking a closer look at how to take domestic violence more seriously from a legal standpoint. Lexington is replicating High Point’s Offender Focused Domestic Violence Initiative and they began C- and D-list offender notifications on July 1, 2014. Thus far, 83 domestic violence offenders have been notified by the Lexington Police Department that the violence will no longer be tolerated. Offenders are told that they are now on a watch list for domestic violence offenders and that future offending will be met with swift, severe, and certain consequences. From now on the Police Department will focus attention on the offenders to change their behavior and it is no longer the victim’s responsibility to get out of the situation. Of those offenders who have been notified, only 10% have picked up an additional domestic violence charge after notification. In fact, the majority of offenders who have been notified aren’t picking up any charges after notification, domestic or otherwise.
Word about the Offender Focused Domestic Violence Initiative in Lexington is spreading quickly among the offender population. Bonds for domestic violence offenders are being set higher, prosecutors are working diligently to use levers to increase charges and potential associated punishments against domestic violence offenders, and there is now a bi-weekly working group that meets to discuss ongoing domestic cases and address gaps in the systems and processes surrounding how the community deals with domestic violence.
NC Network for Safe Communities is participating in the bi-weekly meetings to document the replication process as it unfolds in Lexington and is working with the Lexington Police Department to track data and evaluate the results of the effort.
Our partners with Project Safe Rockingham County recently reported a 20% decrease in armed robberies, which were up slightly a year ago. By using data to drive the focused deterrence strategy and direct it toward offenders known to be engaged in armed robbery in Rockingham County, the County has successfully lowered the number of armed robberies occurring in the County. In addition, armed robberies are one of four violent offenses reported in the State Bureau of Investigation’s violent crime index. Since focused deterrence work began in Rockingham County in 2010 in partnership with the North Carolina Network for Safe Communities, the County has experienced a nearly 20% reduction in violent crime. Project Safe Rockingham County has an advisory board with representatives from each of the six local law enforcement agencies in the county, the district attorney’s office, and members of the community who meet regularly to discuss the strategy. The site coordinator, Guilio Dattero, oversees the day-to-day operations behind the strategy. Project Safe Rockingham County has become an exceptional model of how to implement and sustain the focused deterrence strategy in the State of North Carolina and has done an outstanding job showcasing the outcomes of the effort through media outlets.
The full article written about the Project Safe Rockingham County initiative can be found here: Sept 2014 PSRC article.
NCNSC was contacted by a group of researchers and practitioners in the United Kingdom who were interested in learning more about High Point Police Department’s application of focused deterrence to combat domestic violence. The group published a report entitled, Domestic Violence: Evidence Review in which they stated: “While domestic violence is high on the public policy agenda in the UK, successive reviews have highlighted policing problems. A recent HMIC report found domestic violence is not policed at the same level as other offences and identified a catalogue of policing failures that have a long history of recurrence. With domestic violence accounting for around a large proportion of violent crime incidents reported to the police, and the majority of all female homicides (Office for National Statistics, 2013), it is essential that what works in addressing perpetrators is fully reviewed.” The review was prepared to as a rapid assessment of the current state of the evidence on policing interventions for domestic violence.
The review provides an up-to-date perspective of what is working regarding policing efforts aimed at combating domestic violence and could serve as a valuable resource for community’s looking for evidence-based solutions.
Last week, NC Network for Safe Communities presented along with the High Point Police Department at the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence conference. The latest evaluation results of the effort are very promising. At the two year mark since implementation of the initiative, domestic violence offenders who have been notified have a 9% recidivism as measured by repeat arrest for a domestic violence-related crime. Also, domestic-related arrests , domestic assaults with injury, and intimate partner domestic calls for service have all decreased significantly since implementation.
The findings support that domestic violence offender behavior can be changed by stripping their anonymity and putting them on notice, creating swift, certain, and predictable consequences for offending, and allowing them to make a rational choice to stop domestic violence offending behavior. Further, this can be achieved all without any additional harm to victims and leading to a huge savings in terms of law enforcement resources and without reliance on traditional responses to domestic offenders (i.e., incarceration, treatment programs, anger management, etc.).
Please click the link below for a full copy of the presentation.