California Police Chief- Fall 2013 - Page 23

Enter the Citrus Heights Police Department’s DVRT program, for Domestic Violence Response Team. In what is believed to be the only program of its kind among law enforcement agencies in California and possibly the nation, the DVRT program pairs two officers with a trained expert in domestic-violence intervention who rides along with the officers as they respond to DV calls. After the officers secure a scene, the domestic violence “advocate” will enter the home of the suspect and victim and discuss counseling and other DV service options. This step is crucial, since studies show that the best chance of decreasing the rate of domestic violence is by getting both victims and suspects into programs as quickly as possible. Typically, police agencies have DV counselors follow-up with parties involved in domestic violence calls a day or more after the incident. The Citrus Heights PD, however, puts the counselors on the scene as the case is unfolding. Results of DVRT have been dramatic. Before the program started, only 8 percent of victims of domestic violence would follow up with services offered by the Domestic Violence Intervention Center, said Sgt. Janet Schaefer, the Citrus Heights PD’s domestic violence liaison with the community. The advocates are civilians ranging from lawyers to teachers to retired people who all have been trained in DV intervention and in working with police officers in Citrus Heights, which was incorporated 15 years ago and is located midway between Sacramento and Roseville. When the advocates are not riding along in patrol cars they are manning a crisis line and, with the exception of between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., they are on call to roll outto a scene on their own to counsel parties involved indomestic disturbances, Schaefer said. ? The James Q. Wilson awards are presented by the Regional Community Policing Institute – California, as well as the American Military University in association with the California Police Chiefs Association and the California Attorney General. In addition to Boyd and the Citrus Heights PD, two finalists also will be honored in March: the Riverside County Sheriff ’s Department, Sheriff-Coroner Stanley Sniff for their “Tribal Liaison Unit” and Chief James Hunt and the Monrovia Police Department for their “Operation Safe Neighborhoods” project. • Now, almost 49 percent of them do, Schaefer said. “They (victims and suspects) develop more of a personal relationship with the domestic violence advocate,” Schaefer said. “They put a face and a name ona person, which makes it easier for them to feel more comfortable seeking out additional resources.” Seven DV advocates work part time for the Citrus Heights PD and ride along with 12 DVRT officers at least four nights a week during traditional peak hours for domestic violence calls, said Boyd, former police chief of Menlo Park who has worked in law enforcement for 22 years. Spring 2012 | 23