In conjunction with the Crisis Center for South Suburbia’s Court Advocacy Program, a Community Policing component was implemented in 2001. The CCSS Community Policing Program has established collaborative partnerships with seven area police departments to provide outreach services, safety planning, and IDVA (Illinois Domestic Violence Act) information to victims. In FY12, over 1,900 victims were assisted through this program.
The Community Policing Program is in partnership with thirteen police departments in the Cook County 5th Municipal District and 6th Municipal District to educate law enforcement officers on the dynamics of domestic violence, Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA), update them on any laws, court proceedings and provide advocacy services to victims in person or via telephone. Appropriate training at this level is crucial, as police are often the first link to services that are available to victims.
The fourteen police departments that are currently in the program are: Alsip, Chicago Ridge, Crestwood, Hazel Crest, Justice, Lemont, Oak Forest, Oak Lawn, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Park Forest, Richton Park, Tinley Park and Worth. When police respond to a domestic violence call, it is important to ensure the safety of all parties present
as well as be able to identify the perpetrator from the victim.
The police prepare an incident report; The incident report includes contact information about the victim. This information is provided to the Crisis Center Community Policing Advocate who is assigned to that police depa rtment. This fiscal year the program is serving an average of 258 victims monthly.
The Community Policing Advocate, who also is a Domestic Violence Court Advocate attempts to contact the victim via telephone, and if successful, the Advocate ensures the safety of the reported victim by reviewing a safety plan, offers to answer any questions, to discuss any of their concerns, encourages them to seek counseling and offer additional domestic violence services, as well as, provide them with legal referrals if needed. Advocates have also met with victims in person at their respective police departments when the victim does not have a safe place to conduct a telephone call from.
At this time, the Advocate educates the victim about domestic violence dynamics. She offers information about IDVA, what her rights and her children’s rights are under the law, the type of protection that is offered under the law, what options she has for an order of protection, and what to expect at the court proceedings.
The Advocate is available to become the victim’s liaison, if the victim wishes to obtain additional assistance. If needed, the Advocate can utilize the professional relationships she has established by working at the 5th and 6th Municipal District Cook County Courthouses. The Advocate discusses safety concerns over and over again to ensure that the victim has a comprehensive understanding of her risks whether she chooses to return to the abuser or to seek an order of protection.
Another fact worth mentioning is that more than half of the Advocacy team is bilingual, which enables us to assist victims who do not speak English or have limited understanding of the English language.
In addition, professional trainings are provided to law enforcement personnel at these departments and at other police departments throughout the south suburbs. Appropriate training at this level is crucial, as police are often the first link to services that are available for victims. Their responsiveness and sensitivity to the victim’s needs may dictate how the victim will access services in the future.