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Evaluating a Multi--Disciplinary Response to Domestic Violence: The DVERT Program in Colorado Springs, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2001
67 pages
This study is the result of an 18-month evaluation that examined the Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team (DVERT) under the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD), assisting victims of the most serious domestic violence incidents.
In 1996 the CSPD received Federal funds to establish the DVERT. The program received funds to respond to system deficiencies and breakdowns, enhance law enforcement and prosecution in domestic violence cases, and increase the safety of victims and contain perpetrators, in addition to intervention and outreach services. DVERT is a systematic and multi-disciplinary response to spouse assault. The program was found to be a unique and active blend of social service and criminal justice components. A major difference between DVERT and other police programs is its view that the safety of the victim is the primary concern. DVERT and community-policing principles have become intertwined. The program focuses on three levels of domestic violence situations; the most lethal situations where a victim may be in serious danger, moderately lethal situations where the victim is not in immediate danger, and lower lethality situations where patrol officer engage in problem solving. In 1998, 21st Century Solutions received a grant from the National Institute of Justice to form a partnership with DVERT to conduct a process evaluation of the program. This study is the result of an 18-month evaluation examining the program. Data was gathered from case files, interviews with DVERT partners and victims of domestic violence, and observations of activities of the participants. Over the 18-month evaluative period, changes occurred regularly in its processes, decision-making, and personnel. Changes were seen as occurring because there was a belief in fixing and improving systems if they could serve clients/victims better. In 2000, the classification of cases changed dramatically. Levels I-III were replaced with new terminology and a new process. The “Intake Team” is now responsible for reviewing all cases referred to DVERT. If the family is seen as benefiting from additional intervention, they are referred to the “DVERT Assessment Team”. The Assessment Team consists of a detective, a victim advocate, and several officers working overtime with DVERT. The team provides short-term interventions in complex cases. If further interventions are necessary, the DVERT Ongoing Team steps in and handles the most dangerous cases. The emphasis remains on the safety of the victims. Significant findings were identified through the evaluation and may prove beneficial to practitioners and others interested in domestic violence. Findings include: (1) DVERT focuses on the safety of victims; (2) DVERT spreads the responsibility of the problem to a number of agencies; (3) DVERT handled nearly 1000 of the most serious domestic violence cases over the last 4 years; (4) offenders in the DVERT caseload were predominantly white males between the ages of 21 and 50; (5) victims in the DVERT caseload were predominantly white females between the ages of 16 and 50; (6) “risk to children” was the most frequent reason for acceptance into the DVERT; (7) for cases opened in 1996, the average time to closure was 530 days and for cases opened in 1998 closures occurred within 210 days, a (60 percent decrease); (8) as a result of DVERT, the services to victims has improved; (9) victims have more resources through DVERT, such as safe housing and counseling; (10) for women and children involved in DVERT, violence seems to have been reduced; and (11) overall, through DVERT the CSPD has expanded its domestic violence operation. It has saved lives, reduced violence, improved communication among city and county agencies and service providers, and improved the quality of life in Colorado Springs. References, appendices

Date Published: June 1, 2001