Westchester County is creating an expanded crisis intervention team to identify families at highest risk of deadly domestic violence and intervene to save lives
The Westchester County Domestic Violence High Risk Team (DVHRT), will harness the collaborative power of diverse partners across all of Westchester County to improve systems response, promote offender accountability, and enhance the safety of victims and their families identified as high risk for lethality or life-threatening assault. Hope’s Door, a domestic violence agency located in Hawthorne, will train law enforcement officers to conduct lethality screening at all domestic incident calls and to link victims with local domestic violence service providers, including Hope’s Door, for on-going and trauma-informed services. If authorized by the victim, police will coordinate to hold offenders accountable and to enhance victim safety.
Other partners joining OFW in the DVHRT include the Westchester County Department of Public Safety, Westchester County Probation Department, Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, Westchester Medical Center, My Sisters’ Place, Putnam/Northern Westchester Women’s Resource Center, Westchester Community Opportunity Program/Victims Assistance Services, Legal Services of Hudson Valley, and the Elizabeth S. Haub School of Law at Pace University/Women’s Justice Center.
Hope’s Door was a founding member of the original Northern Westchester Risk Reduction Team (NWRRT), a two-year pilot program funded by the NYS Office for Prevention of Domestic Violence. As the program expands its work countywide, Hope’s Door will provide safety planning, counseling and legal services to 19 county and state police jurisdictions, representing 30% of our County population.
According to Hope’s Door Executive Director CarlLa Horton, “NWRRT brought together many diverse partners with different perspectives and obligations. All partners worked hard to achieve our goals, and our success was reflected in the unanimous decision of the partners to continue the program even after our pilot project funding expired on September 30, 2019. We deeply understood, as a team, that we had to do more, that the safety of victims should not depend on where they lived within the county.”
The Westchester County Office for Women (OFW) was a driving force in our original NWRRT pilot project and has been in the forefront of efforts to expand services county-wide and establish the new DVHRT. OFW will serve as the oversight agency, collecting data, and ensuring compliance with roles and responsibilities. As an approved non-residential DV provider, OFW also will provide non-residential DV services to high-risk victims in 19 other jurisdictions in the County, representing another 33% of our county population.
“The implementation of a High Risk Team across Westchester County is an integral step in reducing lethality and risk of serious harm to victims of family violence,” said Robi Schlaff, Director of the County Office for Women.
Yanira Villaman, Risk Reduction Program Coordinator at Hope’s Door, agrees, adding, “We know that when a victim calls 911, it could often escalate the already dangerous situation which they face. Responding to an emergency call with the help of a team that is trained in the dangers of intimate partner violence, and having the ability to immediately safety plan with a victim over the phone, is vital to their safety.”
Barbara Turk is the Director of Development and Community Relations for Hope’s Door.