COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A collaboration of nine Franklin County agencies is the recipient of a $900,000 award from the U.S. D.O.J., Office for Violence Against Women to implement the Blueprint for Safety through September 2023 to combat domestic violence.
The Blueprint for Safety model, originally developed and implemented in Saint Paul, MN, provides a consistent, coordinated criminal justice response to protect victims of domestic violence. It uses a high level of collaboration and information-sharing among service providers to facilitate victims’ safety from an initial emergency call for help through to sentencing and probation.
The following central Ohio entities will work together to coordinate agency responses across the criminal justice system to increase safety for victims and ensure access to justice:
- Franklin County Commissioners’ Office of Justice Policy and Programs
- Franklin County Prosecutor, Special Victims Unit and Witness Assistance Unit
- Franklin County Sheriff's Office
- Columbus City Attorney, Domestic Violence and Stalking Unit
- Columbus Division of Police, Patrol and Domestic Violence Investigation Unit
- Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division
- Franklin County Municipal Court Pretrial and Probation Services
- CHOICES for Domestic Violence
- The Center for Family Safety and Healing
This work will build on the county-wide 2019 National Association of Family and Juvenile Court Judges Domestic Violence Technical Assistance Program grant
that brought the majority of these same agencies together to reduce intimate partner homicides.
Leadership of the departments and agencies involved announced their acceptance of this 2020 Improving Criminal Justice Responses to Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Grant
at an event at the Franklin County Common Pleas Courthouse on Tuesday.
“Collaboration and coordination are essential to providing the accountability and high-quality assistance victims of domestic and intimate partner violence deserve from their government. These partner agencies and officials have a proven record of working together to keep victims of violence safe and reducing the amount of domestic violence in our community,” said Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown. “The collective approach taken in the Blueprint for Safety will further our commitment to ensuring justice for those suffering from domestic and intimate partner violence while holding their abusers accountable for their actions.”
“The Blueprint for Safety framework has an incredible track record of reducing deaths, holding perpetrators accountable and changing societal attitudes toward domestic violence in communities where it has been implemented,” said Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein. “Our team looks forward to fully embracing this comprehensive interagency approach to break the cycle of domestic abuse in our community.”
“Building on the successful partnerships between the city, county and LSS CHOICES with the Lethality Assessment Program where law enforcement officers link domestic violence victims to services, the Blueprint for Safety provides a collective approach to the criminal justice system,” said Sue Villilo, Assistant Vice President of Community-Based Services, Lutheran Social Services. This approach centers our work on the needs and voice of the victim, offers consistency across the legal system and enhances protocols for holding perpetrators accountable.
Blueprint for Safety is grounded in the experiences of victims of violence and an understanding of how the intervention of the criminal justice system affects their lives. This victim-centered approach supports authorities’ ability to intervene quickly when there are new acts of violence, intimidation or coercion; and shifts the burden of holding the offender accountable for violence or abuse from the victim to the system. Based on 30 years of work and research, outcomes of the Blueprint for Safety include:
- Keeping more women and children in their own home
- Increased victim safety and perpetrator accountability
- Reduced domestic abuse-related homicides
- Reduced level of domestic abuse incidents. For example, St. Paul experienced a reduction of domestic abuse emergency calls from 11,000 to 5,000 between 2009 and 2016
The program emphasizes seamless access to police reports and victim risk scores when making arrest, bond, bail, prosecution and community supervision decisions — decisions that promote victim safety and prevent tragedy.
The Franklin County Commissioners voted earlier on Tuesday to accept the grant on behalf of the partnership. The text of their resolution and the associated documentation can be found here