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Friday, August 17, 2012

Ind. Gov't. - More on "Indiana launches card for domestic violence victims"

Updating this ILB entry from August 14th, about the new "Hope Cards [that] will contain details of the protective or restraining orders obtained by victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking," where the ILB asked "Why not put the court orders online, if they are not already, and simply put an individualized QR code on the Hope Card that will take one directly to the court order?" the ILB received several responses from readers. From a "southern Indiana judicial officer":

To answer your question, the INCITE protective order registry has been up for years, is searchable by LEO [law enforcement officers], at least dispatch if not on the net to all officers. You simply log in, type in either name, and it gives you a list of all the hits for that name, this is in my mind better as it would alert the LEO to possible multiple PO's, serial abusers, serial filers, and mutual orders. It is set up to log in and pull anyone up in 45 seconds. If the police don't have street level access to this, that is where the $30k should go.
From a trial judge in the northern half of Indiana:
Good question. The orders are already online in the Protective Order Registry which is accessible to police departments but not to the public at large. Courts are required by statute to put all protective orders in the Registry.

The Hope Card is a purely duplicitous way of doing what most judges already do – give a copy of the order to a petitioner before she (or he) leaves the courtroom. Now the petitioner will also be able to obtain from the AG’s office a laminated wallet-sized card containing some of the same information. It will probably only take a week or two to obtain the card. Of course, that is precisely the week or two during which the petitioner and the police will most likely need access to the information.
William Murrell of the Lafayette Journal Courier reported August 15th:
Domestic abuse victims from Tippecanoe and surrounding counties with multiple-page court orders can now transform those documents into wallet-sized cards.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Verizon Wireless have launched a statewide Hope Card program that acts as a “snapshot” of the victim’s protective order.

Zoeller introduced the card Wednesday at a YWCA conference in Lafayette.

“Thanks to Verizon Wireless, we can better protect Indiana’s vulnerable and give law enforcement a new tool to respond more quickly to protective order violations,” Zoeller said. * * *

“Any law enforcement agent can go online and see what the protective order reads,” Zoeller said. “This card provides information so they can immediately go to that and gives the police officer an opportunity to see all the details of that order.”

Today the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has an editorial headed "Hope Card carries limits." Some quotes:
At first glance, a new state program meant to help domestic violence victims seems beneficial. But the program is redundant to the system that’s already in place and could put the onus on victims to provide proof of court orders when they call police for help. * * *

“Yeah, it may be a nice tool, but I worry it puts another burden on victims,” said Dottie Davis, deputy chief of the Fort Wayne Police Department.

Unquestionably, the intent of the program is laudable, and Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s effort deserves appreciation. But it appears that more research was needed before the program was launched. The attorney general’s office should have started by seeking more input from victims’ advocates and local law enforcement experts about the proposed program.

Davis, a nationally recognized expert on domestic violence who serves as a board member for the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Women’s Bureau, said “it feels as though we are putting an extra responsibility on the victim to keep an extra piece of documentation.” When victims are in crisis, it is a chaotic time. They may be fleeing and may not even have their wallet or purse.

She is also concerned that victims will get a false sense of security by thinking the card gives them an extra piece of protection.

There is already a system in place to let police officers responding to domestic violence calls know when a protective order is in effect. Court clerks enter protective order information into Indiana’s JTAC (Judicial Technology Automation Committee) database each day. Emergency dispatchers have immediate access to the online protective order information that they provide to responding officers.

Police officers are able to make an arrest only after the perpetrator is served with the protective order from the court and violates that order. Having a Hope Card is not likely to accelerate that process.

“This is supposed to compliment that system,” said Erin Reece, spokeswoman with the attorney general’s office. The cards are not only for the benefit of law enforcement; victims can show the card to school officials, daycare providers or apartment managers to let them know about a protective order.

There is also the matter of training domestic violence victims about how to use the cards and training police officers about what they should do when someone shows them one of the laminated cards.

Reece said the attorney general’s office is planning to hold a series of webinars to train victims’ advocates about the Hope Cards soon.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 17, 2012 08:55 AM
Posted to Indiana Government