At news conference Thursday (Oct. 6), Houston Police Assistant Chief George Buenik, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and Pasadena Police Chief Michael Thaler announced a joint partnership with the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council.
Photos of the news conference are attached to this news release.
The four organizations are joining together to create a Community Safety Assessment of domestic violence services in Harris County. The Safety Assessment is a tool created by Praxis International to be used by law enforcement organizations and domestic violence advocacy groups to further their common goals of enhancing safety and ensuring accountability when intervening in cases involving domestic violence.
“We welcome the Safety Assessment being coordinated to identify best practices in the field,” said Assistant Chief Buenik. “We all want to provide the best services possible to domestic violence victims and believe this is a great program,” he added.
The goal of the Safety Assessment is to discover what works well and if there are gaps in safety and accountability beginning when a domestic violence incident is first reported. The partnership will then make specific recommendations to address the discovered gaps.
“It’s a proactive process,” said Sheriff Garcia. “It’s always good to challenge ourselves,” he added. “Allowing these independent groups to come in and look at our processes helps make sure we’re on top of our game.”
Pasadena Chief Thaler said one goal of the assessment was to improve assistance to domestic violence victims.
“It’s estimated there are 1.5 million people in the United States who each year are victims of domestic violence,” he said. “I think this assessment will also help us build on our education programs. We want victims to understand when they are being abused they can come forward and there are resources available to help them,” Chief Thaler added.
The Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council plans to assess five systems within Harris County that deal with domestic violence.
“We are looking at what is working and have already found several procedures that are working well,” said Amy Smith, Deputy Director with the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. “We are also attempting to identity gaps in services so we can better bridge those gaps,” she added.
The assessment involving the three local law enforcement agencies is expected to be completed by March, 2012.
Other systems scheduled to be assessed involve the criminal/civil justice system, domestic violence service providers, the medical community and the CPS/APS system.
Community partners working on the assessment include all six local Women’s Centers, Texas Women’s Hospital, Memorial Hermann Hospital, Harris County Hospital District, Adult Protective Services, Children’s Protective Services, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, Montrose Counseling Center, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, and members of the Houston Police Department, Pasadena Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.