LOGAN, Utah — CAPSA has received a three-year grant for the Blueprint for Safety program, a highly collaborative project designed to assess and improve the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence.
“It’s an evaluation of the response to domestic violence, starting at the 911 call all the way up through probation and prosecution,” said Haylee Hunsaker, the Blueprint coordinator. “Really, we want to be working together for the benefit of the victim.”
Agencies participating in the Blueprint program include the Cache County Attorney’s Office, the Logan City Police Department, the Cache County Sheriff’s Office, Adult Parole & Probation, private sector probation, an administrator from the First District Court, and the director of dispatch.
According to Hunsaker, agency heads from each community partner make up the steering committee, which leads the project, keeps it moving forward and makes larger decisions within the program.
“We’re interested in learning all we can about best practices with domestic violence,” said Cache County Attorney James Swink, including “how we measure up to those and where we can do better.”
The Blueprint program gives each law enforcement agency a list of best practices that are mostly victim-centered. They give guidance on everything from the best way to share information between agencies to how a custody hand-off between agencies should look.
“The Blueprint comes with 30 years of research-based best practices,” Hunsaker said. “We really try to take those best practices and see what we’re currently doing and what we’re not currently doing … and how we can bring those best practices to Cache Valley in an effective way.”
Assessments are performed to locate gaps within the criminal justice system. During one of the first assessment activities evaluating 911 dispatch, members of the steering committee listened to 10 911 calls to see which of Blueprint’s best practices were already being followed and which needed to be implemented.
“The end goal of the Blueprint, I think, would be to have better outcomes for the victim throughout the criminal justice system,” Hunsaker said. “That would be making sure her voice is heard right from the beginning. … She’s the expert on her situation, she’s the expert on what she needs.”
Hunsaker also believes that the Blueprint program will lead to a better sharing of information and more consistency throughout a victim’s journey with law enforcement.
“If we maintain the history, severity and context of the situation from the first interaction with the victim and the offender all the way up through the criminal justice system, a judge has a better view of that situation and can make a better judgment,” Hunsaker said. “There can be better outcomes that help victims as well as keep offenders accountable.”
According to Jill Anderson, the executive director for CAPSA, the Blueprint program isn’t just for communities whose law enforcement agencies don’t work well together, but rather for communities with agencies that are doing well and are still striving to do better.
“One of the things that I love about the fact that the Cache Valley community is embarking on this project is that we were already doing a pretty good job … that we already had pretty good relationships,” Anderson said. “Each of the organizations that we’re partnered with were already interested in ‘What can we do better?’”