HISTORY OF THE LAKE COUNTY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COUNCIL
In 1995, the Lake County Domestic Violence Council was established as a countywide network of social service programs, law enforcement, criminal justice agencies and other organizations, which share the common goal of ending domestic violence in Lake County.
The Council's purpose is to effectuate coordination between agencies, departments, and the courts regarding issues of domestic violence by:
1) prompting effective prevention, intervention and treatment techniques;
2) improving response to domestic violence and abuse so as to reduce incidents;
3) promoting effective community awareness of education programs.
Understanding that domestic violence does not discriminate against socioeconomic background or race, the Lake County State's Attorney created the Council in order to bring people together to share ideas on how to eliminate domestic violence in Lake County. The Council works towards common goals and addresses the often difficult issues that family violence brings. Throughout the years, the Council has achieved many accomplishments, including:
Some achievements of the Lake County Domestic Violence Council are:
*Developed a Treatment Provider Committee to address the needs of the offender. Currently the committee, consisting of approximately 20 members, meets monthly to focus on ways to improve treatment services to domestic violence perpetrators. Under the Lake County Domestic Violence Manual the treatment provider evaluators exceed State requirements for providing services.
*Created a tri-fold “Safety Plan” card which provides ways for a victim to be safe whether they are currently in the relationship or are preparing to leave the abuser. The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office distributes approximately 20,000 a year.
*On-going domestic violence training. Training is provided on a regular basis to the public on the domestic violence program, and changes in policy and procedure when responding to a domestic violence call. Education forums are provided to school personnel, law enforcement , staff and other outside community programs. There are no limitations to training presentations.
*Actively participates and was instrumental in the coordination of the 19th Judicial Family Violence Coordinating Council. Lake County State’s Attorney personnel are actively involved in community forums and sit on education, health and clergy committees. Staff assists in the training of clergy, schools, and medical staff. The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office proudly sponsors and supports the yearly community family violence forums.
* Developed the “BEE SAFE” program. The program consists of materials such as safety cards, posters and stickers that assist in educating children who are exposed to domestic violence in their homes. The items were developed through grant money obtained by the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office and were created to support conversation within classrooms regarding safe behavior when incidents of violence occur. The Lake County State's Attorney reached out to all Lake County schools asking them to adopt the program. To date approximately, 20,000 posters, stickers and safety cards have been distributed.
In conjunction with this project, a section in the Domestic Violence Manual was added on “Children of Domestic Violence”. This sections gives officers guidelines to interviewing children at the scene.
*Adopted 911 Domestic Violence Cell Program. Many domestic violence victims are often isolated from their family and friends allowing them little if any contact with outside resources. The cell phone program allows a victim to obtain a cell phone through the State’s Attorney’s Office by simply expressing the need without time restraints. The phone gives a victim the freedom to devise their own safety network.
* Brought the Illinois Automated Victim Notification System to Lake County by working closely with the Illinois Attorney’s General’s Office. The system allows victims, relatives and/or concerned citizens to be informed upon a defendant’s release from the Lake County Jail or the Illinois Dept. of Corrections. It gives a victim peace of mind when the abuser is in custody.
* Developed a Standard police reporting form to be used by every Lake County Police Department when responding to a domestic violence call. The police reports forms consist of a “Supplemental Police Reporting Form “and a “Domestic Violence Risk Assessment Form”. Theses forms require the officer at the scene to obtain more information than what was previously required. It includes things such as information on past abuse , state of mind of the offender, other places to reach the Victim , and crime scene descriptions. The State’s Attorney’s office requires these forms on every domestic violence case.
* Created the “Dia Video” . The video tells the story of a woman who was shot by her husband during a domestic dispute. She tells her story of how she felt working in the Lake County Court system and encourages other victims to reach out. The video was created by the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office with grant money to help victims see that they are not alone in their feelings as it relates to the court system.. The video was distributed to every police department in Lake County and many social service agencies to use for education training.
* Developed a Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office Domestic Violence Website (www.co.lake.il.us/statesattorney/violence). The website was created to allow victims access to information on the Cycle of violence, characteristics of an abuser and local resources to name a few without having to make a call. The website is regularly updated with new information and suggestions on how to keep safe and how to break away from the violent relationship.
* Hosts National Speakers on domestic violence topics, such as Anne O’Dell and Mark Wynn, to train staff and other members of the Council on issues such as Strangulation, responding to domestic violence calls and effective evidence collection.
* Created the Law Enforcement Responsibilities and Evidence Collection card. This is a pocket size lamented card given to law enforcement with gives guidelines as to what evidence needs to be collected when they are at a domestic violence scene.
* Lake County State’s Attorney ‘s Office staff sit on a State Family Coordinating Council Elder Abuse Committee and report back on the latest trends and protocol as it pertains to Elderly Abuse cases. As a result, the Council has developed an Elder Abuse section in the Domestic Violence Manual in accordance with this policy.
* Instrumental in the creation of D100, a room within the courthouse that is staffed by local shelter personnel to help victims of domestic violence obtain Orders of Protection. D100 staff attend Council meetings to report on the progress and needs of the service provided.
* Creation of the Teen Dating Violence Committee. The committee was formed to address the needs of teens and to educate the community on the growing problem of teens and domestic violence. Currently, a Teen Dating Violence Kit is being created to distribute to all Lake County High Schools. The kit will provide guidelines and materials on how to educate the population within the school setting. The Committee developed a Teen Dating Violence Poster Contest to solicit teens to create the face of a safety card being distributed within the kit.
* Seeks grants to continue to promote Domestic violence education and staff working in the Domestic Violence program. Has been awarded approximately $40,000+ towards domestic violence education efforts.
*Works with all local police departments to have written protocol in place for Domestic Violence cases that is in accordance with the Lake County Domestic Violence Council guidelines.
* Working to Develop a Domestic Violence Firearm Provision Team to develop protocol on how to address the issue of Firearms in Family Violence Cases.
* Actively working with Court personnel on a Lake County Visitation Exchange Program. In conjunction with the 19th Judicial Courts , a grant has been applied for which will provide a safe place for families in domestic violence situations to drop their children for visitation.
The Lake County Domestic Violence Council works to strengthen the response to domestic violence crimes and provides tools to the community to aid in the prevention of domestic violence.