A program that works with police to help people at the scene of domestic violence calls is expanding throughout Hamilton County. The Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team, known as DIVERT, helped 3,000 survivors in two years while focusing on the Cincinnati area. Now, it's set to expand to up to 15 more jurisdictions.
DIVERT director Wayne Williams said Tuesday police have been eager to sign on for a collaboration.
"When I reach out to the chiefs, the selling point is it costs zero dollars for them so they love hearing that. And the other selling point is, really, we're here to serve their communities," he said. "We're here to work with your officers to make sure that the community you are serving is getting the help that they need."
The DIVERT program is part of a range of services offered through the nonprofit Women Helping Women. While typically underfunded, city officials allocated $250,000 for the program for the first time last year in an effort to get ahead of increased domestic violence sparked by the pandemic.
Still, at least 16 women were killed in what's officially categorized as intimate partner homicide, though the number could be as high as 20.
But advocates say DIVERT is key in addressing those kinds of statistics, and the program saw lower rates of intimate partner homicide in the two years before the pandemic. Additional finding for the service currently comes from private donors, CARES Act funding, and other savings the organization has.
Kristin Shrimplin, president and CEO of Women Helping Women, told Hamilton County commissioners this week, "Too many residents in our county have lost their lives. So we're grateful to focus on expansion."
DIVERT already operates in Cincinnati, Norwood, Cheviot, Green Township, and Delhi Township. It's already set to expand to serve people in Mount Healthy, St. Bernard, Lincoln Heights, Greenhills and Forest Park. There may be enough funding to expand the program to up to 10 more jurisdictions.
Women Helping Women's 24-hour hotline number is 513-381-5610. It can be called or texted. For more information about Women Helping Women, visit their website.