Pasadena Police Partner with Nonprofit as Reported Domestic Violence Jumps 10%

Published : Tuesday, April 16, 2019 | 4:56 AM

A recent 10 percent increase in reported domestic violence cases has spurred the Pasadena Police Department to partner with nonprofit Peace Over Violence on a community initiative known as Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART).

The program, which police said in an April 13 statement, “is focused on deploying counselor advocates who work closely with the Pasadena Police Department as secondary respondents to domestic violence calls.”

Peace Over Violence has been working with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence for over 45 years in the West San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles, according to Melissa Morales, the nonprofit’s community education and empowerment self-defense program manager.

The group’s manifesto points out that domestic violence against women is one of the most pervasive, yet least recognized, human rights abuses in the world. The social service agency’s mission is the elimination of sexual and domestic violence and all other forms of interpersonal violence.

“We’ve worked with Pasadena Police Department on a number of projects over the years and, as of January, we were able to collaborate and bring together a DART program,” she explained.

Pasadena is not the first place this model has been applied. All 22 divisions of the Los Angeles Police Department have a DART team. Peace over Violence describes DART as a system-based model unifying criminal justice, social serve and community-based agencies.

“The mission of DART is to work together toward the common goal of reducing the incidence and impacts of domestic violence and increase access to services for the entire family,” according to Peace Over Violence’s website.

Unlike prior collaborations with the Pasadena Police Department, DART represents the first time Peace Over Violence has a presence at the police station, on Tuesday’s from 7 a.m. to noon.

During those hours the group’s advocate is present to follow up with survivors of domestic violence or sexual assaults as per reports to the police. The officers who responded to the call hand the case off to a detective who, in turn, hands over case reports to the advocate.

“That is so we can follow up and offer the survivors our support services,” Morales explained. “We give them a phone call once we get to the office to check on them and offer any crisis intervention they need. Then we connect them to our follow-up services.”

Those services might include assistance in filling out a restraining order, or going to court to help with its filing. It might involve accompanying a survivor to an interview with a detective or going to court with them to testify.

“We run a very comprehensive case management program,” said Morales. “We offer counseling for survivors, we do support groups. We have legal advocacy projects for our clients. We can help them with immigration and family law matters as well.”

Those five hours a week with an advocate posted at the police station are not the only point of access. The group has a 24-hour, seven days-a-week, emergency response hotline.

Dealing with domestic violence is complicated, according to Morales. It can take seven or eight incidents before a victim chooses to come forward.

“Sometimes we reach out to them and they’re not ready for our services and we respect that,” she explained. “We give them our information so that, when they are, they can reach out to us and let us know how we can help them.”

It is a complicated matter for the men and women in blue as well, according to Pasadena Police Department spokesman Lieutenant Jason Clawson.

“If there’s a problem in a certain area, we can do a walkthrough. We can put our resources there, but we can’t always go into people’s homes without either being invited or being called to the scene. That’s the hardest part. The prevention-intervention model of policing doesn’t work sometimes with domestic violence.”

The police department does not have an evidence-based explanation for Pasadena’s increasing domestic violence numbers.

“It could be a matter of there always being domestic violence in our community and now people are coming out more to report incidents,” said Clawson, “but we don’t know the cause for sure.

Clawson wants victims/survivors to know that there are, in addition to DART, resources available.

Call the police department when in need. Call 311, which is an information resource center in Pasadena, or call Los Angeles County resources at 211 for contact with a domestic violence advocacy group or for resources and referrals to other assisting organizations.

The Pasadena Police Department’s point persons on the DART program are Lieutenant Jesse Carillo and Sargent Caroline Gordon.

Clawson had a closing message that applies to all: “Violence is preventable. It starts at the age of Kindergartners, when we teach children not to hit each other, to respect each other. Raise your kids right. There’s no reason, ever, to put your hands on somebody.”

The 24-hour Los Angeles area rape and battery crisis hotline number is (626) 793-3385.

blog comments powered by Disqus