Baker praises DA Sullivan’s domestic violence intervention program

  • Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito speaks at a press conference recognizing the work of the Northwestern District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Intervention Program at the Statehouse in Boston Wednesday. MJ Tidwell

  • Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at a press conference recognizing the work of the DA’s Domestic Violence Intervention Program at the Statehouse in Boston Wednesday. MJ Tidwell

Boston University Statehouse Program
Published: 10/26/2017 10:24:00 PM

BOSTON — Near the end of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Gov. Charlie Baker took time out Wednesday to recognize Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan’s Domestic Violence Unit at the Massachusetts Statehouse.

The governor thanked members of the unit for their work, particularly with the Domestic Violence Intervention Program.

The DVIP is an early intervention program in Hampshire and Franklin counties that provides specially trained advocates from local battered women’s programs, such as New England Learning Center for Women in Transition and Safe Passage, to be available immediately after police are called to a domestic violence incident.

It also coordinates the local batterers intervention program, Moving Forward, to meet with offenders to give them information about their legal responsibilities and available batterers intervention groups.

Baker praised the program for its work and also spoke about the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, which has been working to create a checklist of questions for law enforcement officers to go through when responding to domestic violence calls.

“These are difficult conversations. They’re hard conversations for law enforcement to engage in,” Baker said at a press conference. “It turns out that afterwards, in many cases, the victims appreciated the thoroughness of the inquiry ... It made them feel their concerns were being taken seriously.”

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who chairs the council, said the checklist will be complementary to DVIP, which is already an important piece of addressing domestic violence.

“Where we see deficiencies, we work to close those gaps,” she said. “One area where we felt we could do more on is on the municipal level, helping law enforcement teams and advocates come together in partnership to provide a more comprehensive response to a domestic violence call.”

Sullivan thanked the governor for making domestic violence a priority and recognizing the work that DVIP does to create that partnership. He added that the focus should be on victim safety and offender accountability.

Mary Kociela, director of Domestic Violence Projects for Sullivan’s office, agreed that the DVIP program is showing strong results on both those fronts, and said efforts by the Governor’s Council to create a standard inquiry process will strengthen what the unit is already doing.

“It’s exciting to come out from the western part of the state to share what we’re doing,” she said. “We have built these partnerships over the years. Particularly because our district is widespread... we have to really be careful what we do so that it benefits everyone in our community.”

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