The following is a press release from the Governor office.
BOSTON – Today, October 15, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Undersecretary for Law Enforcement Jennifer Queally and other to discuss the success of the Domestic Violence toolkit and building upon that success, announced the expansion of the toolkit into Barnstable, Hampden, Berkshire, Norfolk, Worcester and Bristol Counties, while declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“Our administration is pleased to partner at the local level to expand this tool kit to law enforcement officials in counties across the Commonwealth to continue fighting to eradicate acts of sexual assault and domestic violence in Massachusetts and bring awareness during October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I am grateful to Lt. Governor Karyn Polito for her tireless efforts and leadership, helping survivors and officials responding to these senseless assaults.”
“We are grateful for our partners in law enforcement at the local level as well as non-profits and members of the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence who have worked hard to pursue ways to help survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault break out of a cycle of violence and the expansion of this proven toolkit is imperative to the success of responding to such crimes,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, chair of the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. “The Council will continue to develop solutions and resources to assist and support survivors and to end acts of sexual assault and domestic violence in Massachusetts.”
In March 2017, Lt. Governor Polito announced the launch of the Domestic Violence toolkit pilot initiative in partnership with the Municipal Police Training Committee (MTPC) to provide local law enforcement with tools to support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. These tools assist in gathering history and identifying risk and re-assault factors.
The first communities to utilize the toolkit include Woburn, Foxboro, Greenfield and Quincy.
With this rollout Barnstable, Hampden, Berkshire, Norfolk, Worcester and Bristol Counties as well as the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office will access and deploy the toolkit to better respond to acts of domestic violence and sexual assault, and to support survivors in their communities.
“We come together during October to formally acknowledge domestic violence month but our efforts continue each and every day to end domestic violence in Massachusetts,” said Secretary Marylou Sudders. “Our collaboration between police, DA’s Office, and community-based organizations is vital in reducing domestic violence and providing appropriate services for its survivors in the Commonwealth.”
“National estimates indicate that one in two women and one in five men experience sexual violence victimization at some point in their lives,” said Undersecretary for Law Enforcement Jennifer Queally. “Through her work as Chair of the Council, Lt. Governor Polito has worked to ensure that local law enforcement and victim service agencies have the resources they need to hold offenders accountable and assist victims across Massachusetts.”
In 2016, the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence announced priorities with the launch of work groups in five priority areas identified by the Council and the administration. The Response and Assessment work group of the Council created Domestic Violence Assessment and Strangulation worksheets.
The Domestic Violence Assessment and Strangulation worksheets were developed to assist municipalities, by providing tools, training and guidance in gathering the appropriate information in domestic violence cases.
The worksheets inform basic safety planning and services, bail decisions, conditions of probation, and sentencing of an offender. These tools also help Intimate Partner Abuse Education programs, assist in custody, visitation, 209A and any other civil matters where safety of adults and children should be considered. The worksheets give guidance on important information for law enforcement to gather when they are responding to survivors of domestic violence and provide them with protocols on disseminating information to those survivors on where they can get support, as well as document important information that may influence the ability to hold offenders accountable and increase safety for survivors and children.
“The use of these new worksheets has provided valuable information that helps hold offenders accountable and victim safety in Bristol County,” said Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn.
“It is important during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to remember and recognize victims, but also to continually move forward in providing better protection and better services,” said Norfolk County District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey said. “I am pleased to have this distinguished group here in Norfolk County today fulfilling both purposes – remembrance and constructive change.”
“The implementation of the domestic violence tool kit has assisted the Woburn Police Department in more effectively identifying and providing services to victims and survivors of domestic violence,” said Woburn Police Chief Robert Ferullo.
“The development of the DV toolkit is an example of the continuous efforts by many to improve the response to DV cases. It will improve the triangle of communication that is needed between Police, Prosecutors and Victim Services,” said Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson. “Starting at first contact, consistent information can be gathered that will improve the ability to help victims, improve prosecutions, provide victim services and break the cycle of violence. We will continue to evaluate and do what is necessary to confront domestic violence.”
In April 2015, Governor Baker signed Executive Order 563, re-launching the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. Over its first year, the Council’s priorities included analyzing and reporting on the implementation of Chapter 260: An Act Relative to Domestic Violence and a report was issued providing updates on each of the 49 actionable provisions within the law. The Council has launched work groups in five priority areas, including child trafficking and prevention education in schools and universities.