Washington Implements Life-Saving Alert System for Domestic Violence Victims

Addressing a matter that many victims consider to be one of life and death, Washington state will be the first in the nation to alert domestic abuse victims when their abuser attempts to illegally buy a firearm. The program is free, anonymous, and provides life-saving information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Federal law prohibits offenders with a misdemeanor or final protective order from purchasing firearms in the United States. Laws against the crime, also referred to as “lie and try,” were egregiously unenforceable because previous state laws did not require gun salesmen to report failed background checks to authorities.

According to an article from The Trace, over 3,000 of these cases were overlooked in Washington in 2016. The new Washington Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification Service (WA SAVIN) requires all failed attempted purchases of firearms to be reported to Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs for further investigation.

The new program is operated by VINELink, a system already widely used to alert victims of protection order statuses. Notifications are sent to registered victims via email and phone calls within 30 minutes of the “lie and try” sale.

Femicide, the homicide of women, is driven heavily by gun violence. American Progress reported in 2014 that 55% of women killed by intimate partners from 2001 to 2012 were killed by the use of guns. The report also showed U.S. women are 11 times more likely to die from gun-related injuries than women in any other high-income country.

Further research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information indicates abusers with access to a gun are almost twice as likely to commit murder than those who are publically denied use of firearms. Alerting victims when such attempts are made gives them the vital information and time needed to protect themselves and those closest to them.

To register for the new alert system, Washington residents need only visit www.vinelink.com or call 1-877-846-3492. They must know either the last name or birth date of the abuser they wish to track. They will then be prompted to provide their phone number, email address, and to create a secure personal ID number. For additional protection, further personal information is not required, and victims will automatically begin to receive these crucial notifications. More information on the system is available on the program web page

New South Carolina Program Trains Probation Officers to Work Specifically with DV Cases

Over the past two decades, South Carolina has been ranked among the highest domestic violence hotspots in the nation. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), South Carolina has had double the national average of women murdered by intimate partners and nearly 1 out of every 5 women in South Carolina will experience stalking at some point in their life. Big Mountain Data spoke with Peter O’Boyle, public relations director of South Carolina’s Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon (DPPP), to learn what the state is doing to lower these statistics and better protect its victims from domestic violence.

“Unfortunately, in South Carolina, we have always been ranked at the top of the nation for domestic violence cases for percent of our population,” said O’Boyle. “Thankfully, however, Governor Henry [McMaster] has been working closely with us and suggested the creation of a specialized task force.”

Governor McMaster, upon winning his election earlier this year, began studying the current laws in place. His recommended solution to the state’s high rates of offenses was to create a specialized task force comprised of trained parole officers to deal specifically with domestic violence cases.

“A typical agent will be dealing in all areas of the law, including property crimes, burglary, nonviolent offenses, and even murder,” said O’Boyle.

The specific training of these newly appointed agents will lower their case load and allow for more victims to be helped.

The Post and Courier, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for “Till Death Do Us Part,” a special investigation on domestic violence, recently reported that $1.2 million was funded for the new training program for officers. This funding includes the hiring of 20 new agents who will complete a one week program which will educate officers on handling offenders and working with victims. The main goals of the new task force will be to specialize agents’ skills, decrease caseloads, and more closely supervise offenders.

The new program hopes to cover approximately 60% of all domestic violence cases in South Carolina by targeting high-risk areas. Two centers are already planned to open in both Charleston and Dorchester. In an interview with the Post and Courier, Jerry Adger, director of the DPPP, said he would like to see specialized officers in every county of the state and believes within the coming year, the new program will make a big impact on the safety of the state.

Video Credit: Post and Currier © 

A Look at What’s New at Big Mountain Data

In case you’re not subscribed to our newsletter (and you should be!), here is what we’ve been up to lately at Big Mountain Data:

1. Collaborative Project with Wunderman Health.

In May, at the inaugural American Society of Evidence-based Policing conference in Phoenix, #ASEBPconf2017, we announced a new venture with Wunderman Health in NYC. Together, we are collaborating on an educational web site that curates innovation examples around the U.S. focused on Violence Against Women solutions. The site will be parked at the URL: ViolenceAgainstWomen.sucks.

The URL says it all, and, frankly, it’s all you need to say about the everyday reality of violence against women. Our goal is to showcase what is working.

Oftentimes, law enforcement, nonprofits, and civic agencies stumble upon something interesting by attending a conference, or reading a media report. We want to accelerate that exposure and learning. We are asking progressive law enforcement agencies to share their stories, so that we can amplify them via this site and social media.

If you want to learn more about how you can get involved, or how to submit your cases, please let us know. We are pitching this idea to backers, and are optimistic about our prospects to make this showcase a reality.

Wunderman Health is a New York City-based global digital agency and a world leader in marketing and database operations.  The Wunderman Health team, led by CEO Becky Chidester, has partnered with us on the site design and launch plan.

 

2. First Steps in Nashville.

At our partner Superion’s flagship customer event, #SUGA17, we launched our MVP (minimum viable product) for the law enforcement market. The IPVO Tracker will create an offender list, as well as training staff on how to properly collect data on offenders and teach staff on how intimate partner violence is uniquely different from other types of criminal behavior.

Analysis of the data is the first step in the highly successful High Point Model.  If you’re interested in learning more, let us know.  First-time pilot customers can sign up now for a 20% early adopter discount.

 

 

 

3. Our “Dream Product.” 

With the expertise of Dr. Jill Messing, a leading academic and thought leader on Lethality Assessment, we are creating a new software tool in order to assess the threat risk of domestic violence offenders. The software will be able to combine criminal history with lethality factors and compute a unique score for each offender.

The software will be SaaS-based and accessible via any mobile or desktop device, including patrol car systems. Criminal justice, law enforcement, and social services professionals will have real-time data available on all known offenders.

 

 

 

4. Capstone Kick-off.

Big Mountain Data is now a board member of the  Master of Data Analytics (MSDA) program at University of Central Florida.  We will be partnering with Brevard County Sheriff’s Office to build a tool that will identify, track, and hold offenders accountable. The project will be a capstone assignment for MSDA students who will graduate in the spring of 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

5. New Services Listed on Web Site. 

 

We have a number of new services on our website, including our co-venture with Superion.

We’re primarily interested in providing law enforcement with clean data on dangerous, repeat offenders.  But, we’ll also do data analysis local to your region.  We’ve worked with universities, journalists, nonprofits, and researchers to supply data visualizations and reports.

If you have a custom report or project in mind that involves data analysis, we can turnaround projects fairly quickly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Moving Forward

August is approaching fast and will bring with it the Tech2Empower conference in Austin, TX. The statewide conference will provide an exclusive peek into leading technology that will help “build community, strengthen services, and tell the story of the Texas family violence movement.”

Below is a description of our workshop.  We’ll also be exhibiting at the event, showcasing our software prototype, and answering questions about our data analysis offering.

We are looking forward to returning to our Austin roots!

Colorado Passes No Bail Legislation for Stalking and DV Offenders

DENVER — As of August 2017 domestic violence offenders will no longer be granted bail after conviction. House Bill 17-1150, “No Bail For Stalking and Domestic Violence Offenders,” protects victims from further abuse by some of the most dangerous offenders.

The bill was signed just a year after the fatal Colorado domestic violence case of Janice Nam.

Coverage by the Denver Post states that on the night of May 30th, 2016, Glen Galloway violated Nam’s restraining order by breaking into her Colorado Springs home as she slept. He proceeded to shoot her twice in the head.

Prior to her murder, Galloway failed to appear in court for a stalking conviction Nam had filed against him. Earlier articles from the Denver Post show that Nam had filed “multiple protection orders related to domestic violence cases in 2014.” The case lead Colorado legislators to question the effectiveness restraining orders have of protecting victims against domestic violence.

Lydia Waligorski, policy director for Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said in an interview with the Post that stalkers “are the folks that don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. They are typically not the people who are respecting protection orders.”

Cases like Nam’s are not uncommon. A study conducted by the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law titled “Do Protection Orders Protect,” cross-examined the rate of protection order effectiveness of every state in the nation. Their findings showed that for every 100,000 adults, 880 have filed protection orders. Between 84 and 92 percent of these orders are implemented for domestic violence offenses alone. However, almost a fifth of all protection orders go unenforced. Supporters of the new House Bill hope it will eliminate the possibility of further abuse victims often experience once their abuser is set free on bail.

Along with Colorado, 20 other states and DC have implemented immediate arrest laws for domestic violence calls. These laws allow police officers to detain the primary offender without a warrant at the scene of the incident. These laws, along with the denial of bail to offenders, has given new hope to many victims in Colorado.

In an interview with Fox 21 News, Colorado State Representative Clarice Navarro, a main proponent of the new bill, is optimistic for its potential to help victims in the very worst situations.

“This new law will be a sigh of relief to many victims who after enduring the stress of a criminal trial, won’t have to fear retaliation from their attacker,” said Navarro. “I am grateful to all the stakeholders and legislators who participated in this process and hope this new law empowers more victims of stalking and domestic violence to report the abuse they have suffered.”

The new law will take effect August 9.