The Maine Public Broadcasting Network is reporting a new plan by Maine police to work with victims of domestic abuse. In the past, officials only interacted with victims when they were reporting crimes. Instead, the majority of police contact in domestic violence situations was with the alleged criminal. Waldo County and Piscataquis County are adopting a new plan however where police officials work with advocacy groups to help victims before violence occurs. The MPBN website summarizes the initiative by saying:
There have been 113 domestic violence related homicides in Maine over the past decade. Last year, authorities reported a nearly five percent jump in the number of domestic assaults reported. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and across the state, some county governments are rethinking how to best protect victims and deter offenders. They're forming special teams of law enforcement officers, victims' advocates and others…
…[T]hese so-called "high risk" teams work with victims to draw up safety plans that include aggressive monitoring of the offender and safeguards that allow the victims to remain in their homes and communities.
The idea behind this is to work with families in order to prevent convicted abusers from repeating their crimes without having to make the family completely relocate or live in hiding.
This new concept is a great idea not just for abuse survivors but for those who have been accused of abuse as well. Families are made to feel safe in their homes and offenders are given a chance to respect their wishes and keep a safe distance away. In time, if offenders can prove responsible, the need for police protection of families may not be needed.
Hopefully, we will see this program's success in a decrease in domestic violence reports which will lead to other counties adopting this program as well. It is important for people to feel safe and it is nice to see a program that focuses on helping victims instead of waiting for offenders to commit another crime.