Report details how one police department addresses domestic-related repeat calls for service
Sergeants must play a key role in domestic violence-related responses – not just for repeat calls for service but also in managing high-risk calls
A recent COPS Office publication offers a fascinating insight into addressing domestic-related repeat calls for service. In "Proactive Police Response to Domestic-Related Repeat Calls for Service," authors Roberto Santos and Rachel Santos detail how the Danville (Virginia) Police Department approaches calls for domestic violence embracing both community service and officer safety. (See report in full below.)
Dealing effectively with domestic violence calls, including repeat calls for service, not only improves the quality of our response but leads to enhanced victim self-protective measures while decreasing the frequency of assaultive behaviors. It also improves community trust and satisfaction with the criminal justice system. 
One component of Danville PD’s “pro-active police response” that was most impressive to me and my colleagues was the analysis and response required of patrol supervisors. Here at the Sacramento Regional Family Justice Center (SRFJC) we’ve created domestic violence training for dispatchers, police officers and prosecutors. We also train advocates and social workers. However, it remains obvious to us that the sergeants who review reports must know as much as dispatchers and officers in order to assess the quality of our response in reporting domestic violence incidents.
In their project report, the authors quote Sergeant Evan Wilson: “I think it was good that I played a larger role because it made the officers communicate better with me in helping to address a particular repeat location.”
At the SRFJC we help dispatchers and officers understand the nature of domestic violence-related risk factors because a high-risk victim means high risk for responding officers as well. Still, getting sergeants into the mix means better oversight and management of our response. In high-risk cases, sergeants can manage police response and officer safety. A knowledgeable sergeant can make sure the call was handled properly and take a more comprehensive look at the report.
Here, the authors quote Sergeant Valerie Jennings: "I don’t normally show up on this type of call unless the officer needs me. But once we started this process, I made sure that I went and took a personal interest in resolving the repeat problem with my officers."
Here are four takeaways I gleaned from reading this report:
- Sergeants must play a key role in domestic violence-related responses – not just for repeat calls for service but also in managing high-risk calls. Officer safety must be a key concern, followed by risk assessment and comprehensive reporting. Dispatchers can easily notify sergeants and responding officers when dealing with high-risk calls for service. Sergeants can monitor officers’ responses for safety and effectiveness.
- Collaborate with outside organizations for effective follow-up services such as counseling, shelter and restraining orders. The sooner victims get connected to resources the safer they will be.
- Dispatchers must know as much about domestic violence as officers. They can start the ball rolling by identifying high-risk calls and then alerting officers and sergeants for safe and effective response. Dispatchers can easily use the 5-item Danger Assessment in looking for risk factors.
- Use risk assessment tools. Officers can follow up at the scene with the 20-item Danger Assessment. The 5-item and 20-item Danger Assessments are probably two of the best and easiest for dispatchers and officers. There are plenty of other risk assessment tools available if you’re interested.  These tools help us organize our thoughts and ask better questions to identify valid and reliable risk factors.
The message here is to be informed. Understand the nuances of domestic violence and related risk factors. Monitor high-risk and repeat calls for service. And most importantly, stay safe out there.
1. Websdale N, et al. (April 2018.) Protecting Victims of Intimate Partner Violence: Arizona’s Emerging Risk Assessment Model. The Police Chief.
2. Cropp DM. (2020). An Overview of Intimate Partner Violence Risk Assessment Tools. CDAA Prosecutor’s Brief, 43:1.
Proactive Police Response to Domestic-Related Repeat Calls for Service by epraetorian on Scribd