A domestic violence program could be in every Hamilton County jurisdiction by the end of 2022
A program that offers immediate support to domestic violence survivors could more than double its reach by the end of the year.
The Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team, or DVERT, is a program from the nonprofit Women Helping Women. A crisis team goes with law enforcement to respond to 911 calls and connect people with safety planning and more than a dozen other services.
Women Helping Women President Kristin Shrimplin says domestic violence calls spiked during the pandemic and haven’t gone down.
"[The pandemic] was like a tinderbox in a pressure cooker for gender-based violence," she said. "With our hotline calls, we are trending about 25% above where we were last year, and last year was a record-breaking year in all 50 years."
DVERT launched in 2018 as a pilot with the Cincinnati Police Department. Since then, it's expanded to 20 total jurisdictions in the county, including Colerain Township, Springdale, Norwood, Delhi Township and Newtown.
Shrimplin says they plan to join the remaining 29 jurisdictions by the end of 2022.
"It's an ambitious goal, but we're doing our best," she said. "The good news is, I think what you can see is the ripple effect of law enforcement buy-in, and that's just been building and building."
Blue Ash Police started working with DVERT in March 2022, and Police Chief Scott Noel says it was a lot easier than he expected to get up and running.
"Our department updated our protocols so that when we receive a 911 call for domestic violence, we respond and we secure the scene, and then we call out Women Helping Women DVERT advocates who respond to our location," Noel said. "Since launching our partnership a little over five months ago, we have dispatched DVERT 24 times."
The program is free for law enforcement agencies to join thanks to local and federal public funding, and some private donors.
In the last five years, DVERT has served 10,000 survivors and children; 79% of survivors report having at least one child in the home. The team also responds to local hospitals and court hearings.