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Protective Order Enforcement Team (POET) Evaluation, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2003
266 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of an impact evaluation of a project in which a multidisciplinary team used risk assessment instruments as the means for allocating resources to curtail high-risk perpetrators of domestic violence.
According to the grant specifications, the Protective Order Enforcement Team (POET) would use a formal risk assessment instrument to identify those high-risk cases that would require the deployment of extra resources. The intent of this effort was to focus resources on those cases that posed a greater risk of death for the victims. The evaluation involved structured interviews with POET members, an analysis of POET progress reports, and semistructured interviews with victims in targeted cases. The qualitative analysis of interviews identified factors in the successful functioning of the multidisciplinary team and prerequisites for the effective use of the risk assessment instrument in assessing potential victim danger of death from the abuse. The process evaluation found that team members did not work well together. This was due to several factors. The team was not formed prior to the grant period; agency heads did not clearly communicate expectations to the team members; and team members did not receive consistent support from their own agencies or from other team members. Substantial turnover in staff exacerbated the difficulties. Moreover, team members did not reach any consensus regarding the primacy of victim safety as the guiding principle of team efforts. The use of the risk assessment instrument was not effective due to the reluctance of victims to share information with the team. Victims did not trust that the information would be used to help them rather than the abusers. Consequently, victims refused to complete the risk assessment form, and victim advocates refused to share with police or prosecutors the information needed to help assess risk. A comparison of the operation of the POET project with the operation of other Domestic Abuse Response Teams (DART's) shows that a team must be well-established before assuming an additional focus, such as risk assessment. Given the finding that risk assessment cannot be done effectively by a newly formed team with low levels of trust, the report advocates development in the following arenas prior to the launching of team operations: support for the program by the highest level administrators of the agency; the development of communication skills and overall understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence; and team familiarity with effective small group dynamics. 111 references and appended risk assessment instrument and evaluation data

Date Published: October 1, 2003