Beginning in January 2018, Cincinnati Police will dispatch a member of a newly created Women Helping Women special team called DVERT (Domestic Violence Emergency Response Team) to the scene of domestic violence and sexual assault crimes.
The newly created unit, with funds from the Ohio Attorney General's Office, comes as Hamilton County is seeing a spike in sexual assault calls and a rash of domestic violence incidents that resulted in three deaths in October.
Women Helping Women CEO and President Kristin Shrimplin explains how the new protocol will work. "When a survivor calls for help in regards to domestic violence, police are dispatched. They secure the crime scene and, for the first time ever, our agency will also be dispatched. So we will also have an advocate on scene to focus on the needs of the survivor and her children."
Shrimplin says the team will develop a safety plan and connect the victim to resources.
She doesn't know why there has been an increase and says she is concerned about the following:
- Sexual assault calls to the Women Helping Women Hotline spiked 38 percent.
- One of the support groups recently doubled in size.
- There is now a twenty-person wait list for therapy.
- The agency had to dip into savings for the first time to help clients.
"Our hope is, in working with law enforcement, that we can reduce (women's) victimization and increase their safety," according to Shrimplin.
The new program is modeled off one in California.