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Amid spike in domestic violence, police-advocate partnership is expanding in Hamilton County

DVERT May 2022
Posted at 8:58 AM, Aug 23, 2022

CINCINNATI — Amid an increase in domestic violence calls and homicides, Hamilton County is expanding its outreach effort into more jurisdictions and reaching more people.

"This is not rocket science," said Kristin Shrimplin, president and CEO of Women Helping Women. "This is a public health epidemic."

Women Helping Women and the Cincinnati Police Department launched the Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team (DVERT)in 2018, to address an increase in domestic violence homicides and other crimes. It is a 24/7 on-scene response program for survivors and their children, connecting them to resources immediately while police handle criminal investigations.

"When a 911 call goes out for domestic violence, police show up on scene, secure it, then they dispatch our DVERT advocates," Shrimplin explained. "We show up and support survivors and their kids."

Since it launched, the program has expanded to 20 law enforcement jurisdictionsin Hamilton County, with a goal of being partners in all 49 by the end of 2022 or early 2023. It will happen through a $1 million investment from the County and additional public and private funds.

"Back in 2019, the Commission on Women and Girls - 20 women and ten girls - decided that this program was going to be one of our top priorities," said commissioner Denise Driehaus.

At the same time, reports of domestic violence in the County have increased. Women Helping Women reported a 28 percent increase in texts to its 24/7 hotline in 2021 and a 23 percent increase in DVERT on-scene responses. It said there were at least 20 domestic violence homicides in the County that year.

"Since launching our partnership a little over 5 months ago, we have dispatched DVERT 24 times," said Blue Ash police chief Scott Noel, at a news conference Monday announcing expansion goals.

Blue Ash is one of the newest jurisdictions to partner with Women Helping Women. Cincinnati Police was the first - the idea was inspired by a program now-assistant chief Mike John learned about across the country.

"We know that this is not an issue that we can arrest our way out of," he said.

John called on other jurisdictions to partner with DVERT. So did the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

"We want you to know you have resources and an entire team and entire community to support you," said Kyla Woods, public information officer with the Sheriff's Office. "Don't wait until it's a crime scene."

The Women Helping Women 24/7 hotline is (513) 381-5610 and can be called or texted.

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