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 Resources: Promising Practices

The Hope Card Project:
Addressing Protection Order Enforcement Issues

In 2004, John Oliveira, a former Special Agent with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in collaboration with the Crow Nation of Montana, created the Purple Feather Campaign.  Over time, the project expanded statewide and became known as the Hope Card Project. The Hope Card sought to address several issues that hindered protection order enforcement, particularly for protection orders issued by tribal courts. These problems included failure to recognize and enforce valid orders, the inability to locate or decipher critical data on the order, and the inability to review lost or damaged pages of an order.

The Hope Card allows anyone who has a non-temporary valid civil protection order to obtain a Hope Card that summarizes the protection order’s critical information. A Hope Card is not a substitute for the protection order; it offers victims a durable and convenient means of carrying pertinent information regarding an existing order. The design of the Card combines law enforcement’s immediate need for information in response to a domestic violence incident with a victim’s need for safety, convenience, and wraparound services.

The Card uses a standard format, shape, and size that make it easily identifiable by law enforcement. Approximately the shape and size of a credit card, the Hope Card is made of sturdy plastic. Its size and durable surface allow it to be easily carried and concealed by the survivor without the burden of having a multi-page paper order that could be lost or damaged.

The Card displays essential protection order data in a concise and easy-to-read format. Each Card contains the issuance and expiration dates, information about the issuing court, and identifying information on any other protected parties. The opposite side of the Card lists identifying characteristics of the Respondent, including a photograph, when available. It also includes specific terms of the order.

The Hope Card is a valuable tool in assisting first responders. When responding to potential protection order violations, the Hope Card’s design provides law enforcement with critical information on the parties and the order without having to decipher or search through numerous pages. At the scene of a domestic violence incident, law enforcement should use the card as a reference to the original protection order.


Frequently victims of domestic violence face economic challenges when leaving abusive situations. To address this, there has been discussion about expanding the Hope Card Project to provide economic resources to Card recipients fleeing abusive relationships. The Hope Card creator, John Oliveira, is seeking to expand the project by collaborating with local governments, businesses, and non-profit agencies to create a voucher-based debit card function for the Card. If the project were expanded, the Card would be used as a voucher for survivors to obtain emergency services such as lodging, meals, transportation, and medical care.  Survivors would be able to get immediate services conveniently and discreetly by presenting the Card to participating organizations. 

The Crow Nation was the first tribe to use what became the Hope Card and the State of Montana was the first state to implement it.   With the assistance of that state’s Office of Victim Services (OVS), the Hope Card Project continues to thrive. The states of Indiana and Idaho now issue the Hope Card as well. Several other jurisdictions are considering implementation of the program. Montana OVS provides technical assistance to those interested in implementing the Hope Card Project.

If your jurisdiction is interested in the Hope Card or to receive technical assistance contact:

Joan Eliel
Montana Hope Card Program Administrator 
Office of Victim Services, Department of Justice
2225 11th Avenue
P.O. Box 201410
Helena, MT 59620-1410
Phone:  (866) 722-9311 or (406) 444-5803
Fax:  (406) 444-9680
Email:  HopeCard@mt.gov
Website:  https://doj.mt.gov/victims/hope-cards/

 


 

Rose Brooks Center:  Sheltering Victims of Domestic Violence and their Companion Animals



Over a year ago, Rose Brooks Center, a domestic violence shelter in Kansas City, Missouri, became the first program in the region to accept companion pets.  The policy change came about when a domestic violence survivor contacted the hotline seeking shelter but was reluctant to enter the facilities because she would have to leave her beloved family pet. Based on her story, the shelter began to consider allowing pets in their shelter.

In this particular case, the survivor’s pet was an integral part of her survival story. Hank, the survivor’s Great Dane, saved her life when her abuser attacked her with a hammer.  Hank protected her by lying on top of her during the attack, absorbing the majority of the blows.  As a result, he suffered many injuries, including several broken bones. The survivor refused to leave her dog behind to enter shelter. Knowing that the survivor would not leave the dangerous situation without her companion, the shelter agreed to house the dog.

Pet safety is an important issue for survivors of domestic violence who own pets.  First, frequently survivors and pets are both victims of domestic abuse.  Second, many batterers abuse family pets as a means of intimidation and as a precursor to abuse of their intimate partner.  Countless survivors similar to Hank’s owner fear leaving an abusive relationship out of concern for the safety of their pet.

Rose Brooks Center always recognized pet safety as an important issue for survivors of domestic violence.  They have established a long history of working with local animal shelters to provide emergency housing to pets belonging to survivors in their shelter program.  Although they were crucial partners in housing pets of domestic violence survivors, the animal shelters were not always able to meet the needs of Rose Brooks’ clients and their pets.  During economic downturns, many of the animal shelters were unable to accommodate the survivors’ pets because of high demand for space. In other instances, survivors were reluctant to separate from their pets, especially after experiencing a traumatic incident together.

The shelter received countless calls over the years from survivors who desired to leave their abusive situations but remained because they feared their abuser would injure or kill the family pet.  Some victims lived in their cars with their pets for months rather than go into a shelter that did not allow them to bring their animals. Rose Brooks Center found this dilemma unacceptable and sought to do something about it. They created a safe place to which the entire family, including pets, can escape.  Hank, the 110-pound Great Dane, became the first of many companion pets Rose Brooks Center would shelter.

Rose Brooks Center created a mini pilot program to test the feasibility of housing pets on site. The shelter collaborated with other successful programs throughout the country to develop the pet program. Staff converted a small restroom in the basement into a makeshift animal shelter to allow one family at a time to keep their pet.  Working together, staff and the survivor ensured the pet’s needs were met while at the shelter.

Rose Brooks Center believes housing pets in the shelter is one way of helping to remove another barrier a survivor faces when trying to escape violence.  Pets are often emotional companions for survivors of domestic violence and their children.  The Center recognized that the amazing therapeutic benefit a pet has on a survivor and their family significantly outweigh the financial cost and any inconvenience in sheltering the animals. The program has allowed survivors and their families to find safety for themselves and their pets instead of staying in what otherwise would be a dangerous situation. Since the creation of the pet program in 2011, over thirty-six animals have lived in the shelter. The shelter is looking to expand its pet program to house up to eight pets at a time in the near future. (Paws Place, Rose Brooks Center’s pet shelter, opened in June 2012 and can house up to eight pets at a time.  It has been full since the day it opened.)

To learn more about the Rose Brooks Center pet shelter program please click here:  https://www.rosebrooks.org/forms/pet-shelter.html



 

This online resource is meant to build on the promising practices provided in Enforcing Domestic Violence Firearm Prohibitions: A Report on Promising Practices. The report was the result of the collective efforts of many dedicated advocates, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges and other concerned individuals. This material provides information on different jurisdictions as well as new ideas to remove firearms from the possession of prohibited batterers. This is by no means an exhaustive compilation of all the successful practices so many are working to employ across our country. 

Included at the end of each section are the names of the practitioners in each jurisdiction who gave generously of their time and expertise, and who shared their materials, experiences and advice with us. We are grateful to them for their dedication to this issue, and for agreeing to share with other practitioners what they have learned while working to disarm abusers. NCPOFFC will periodically post updates on new practices here. To review Enforcing Domestic Violence Firearm Prohibitions: A Report on Promising Practices click here.

 



El P
aso, Texas: A Coordinated Effort to Remove
Firearms from Domestic Abusers

A coordinated response to firearm removal can increase the efficiency of a jurisdiction’s surrender procedures. The El Paso community came together to address the safety of victims and law enforcement encountering intimate partner violence situations. El Paso’s labor resulted in a guide of multidisciplinary protocols of firearm surrender that may be adapted to meet the removal goals of many jurisdictions.

In May of 2005, to address the issue of removing firearms from domestic violence abusers and reducing the use of these weapons in family violence incidents, the 388th Judicial District Court of El Paso, Texas convened the Domestic Violence Firearm Surrender Advisory Committee. The catalyst for El Paso initiating a community coordinated effort to remove firearms from batterers was the fatal shooting of a law enforcement officer responding to an early morning family violence call. This committee focused on the large number of domestic violence related incidents reported, the role firearms play in domestic violence situations, and understanding firearms increase danger for victims and those responding to requests for assistance.

 
Led by Judge Patricia A. Macias, this multidisciplinary committee of professionals representing courts, federal and local law enforcement, prosecutors, attorneys, advocates, a local military installation and area colleges addressed the issue of removal of firearms and domestic violence. From this group effort, the Domestic Violence Firearm Surrender Protocols Project was created. 

While the Texas Family Code and the Texas Penal Code both have statutes which may bar possession of a firearm by an individual who has committed an act of family violence, implementing the effects of those statutes can be challenging. To reduce serious injury and fatalities the Advisory Committee recognized the need to create a strategy that included removing firearms from the hands of batterers through the use of effective firearm surrender protocols. The Committee addressed removal of firearms at the scene of an incident, issuing an order to surrender, storage and return of firearms, and the coordination of agencies. With a commitment to communication, consistency and collaboration by the system actors, the Advisory Committee knew these would be successful protocols for firearm surrender. 

The Advisory Committee worked for three years to create policies they believed would achieve the results they desired. The focus areas were: at-the-scene firearm surrender, administrative retrieval and transfer of firearms by respondents, storage and reacquisition of firearms, destruction of weapons, ability to notify officials of unlawful possession, and victim notification of a motion to retrieve firearms. Protocols and corresponding forms were created to address law enforcement retrieval, respondent relinquishment and storage and return of firearms, interagency coordination and community support. 

In 2007, El Paso implemented these protocols as a pilot program. The following elements were recognized by the Advisory Committee as essential for a successful program: judicial leadership, setting common goals, collaboration and coordination, personnel and resources, research and evaluation, and training. Examples of the protocols include:
  1. Judicial inquiry on possession of firearms.
  2. Advocates explaining the Firearm Surrender Initiative to victims and provide additional information on risk factors.
  3. If the respondent fails to surrender firearms after a protection order has been issued, the county attorney will take appropriate compliance action.
  4. Victims are notified of the pending return of firearms.
The 388th Judicial District Court Domestic Violence Firearms Surrender Summit was held in El Paso Summer 2011. This gathering convened the multi-disciplinary partners to introduce the completed 388th Judicial District Domestic Violence Firearms Surrender Protocols Project Replication Manual. It also serves as a replication manual, as well as a resource for other communities seeking to implement similar systems. The protocols have had such a positive effect that other jurisdictions have begun to tailor or “replicate” the El Paso protocols to meet their needs.

Judge Macias and other representatives from El Paso, through the Texas Office of Court Administration, offer information and assistance on the implementation of the replication manual to other jurisdictions in Texas. The guide they created has been applied to varying court systems and localities. Its versatility allows for application to civil and criminal court systems, and its discipline specific protocols for attorneys, law enforcement, educational institutions and federal partners have been applied with success in neighboring communities. While there is still work to be done, El Paso is leading by example and assisting others in creating systems that will meet the needs of their communities.

For a copy of El Paso’s Domestic Violence Firearms Surrender Protocols Project Replication Manual please click here.

 

 


NCPOFFC
1901 N. Fort Myer Drive
Suite 1011 
Arlington, Virginia 22209
(703) 312-7922 (Phone)
(703) 312-7966 (Fax)
ncffc@bwjp.org

    
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