Published: September, 2010| Mike Davis, Edited by Stephanie Avalon

In Washington State, the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA), recognizes and responds to the needs of crime victims. In 2005, OCVA began coordinating a multi-agency initiative funded by Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders program, focusing on sexual assault and stalking within the context of domestic violence.

The Vancouver Police Department Domestic Violence Unit in the State of Washington is on call and available 24 hours a day. Between March 2004 and November 2009, Vancouver had not experienced a spousal or intimate partner DV murder. The population of the city is over 180,000 people and the department responds to over 3,000 domestic calls per year.

Vancouver PD, together with its community partners, has implemented the following strategies in its response to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking: the use of a victim statement (known as the Smith Affidavit - see end of page for more languages) with a supplemental DV report; the monitoring of in-custody domestic violence offenders' jail calls; instructions for using these strategies as part of an evidence-based prosecution and a review of all DV reports by the DV unit.

VPD issued general order #2007-003 , which requires the officer to try to get a Smith Affidavit (sworn victim statement) from the victim of any DV crime. This is a voluntary statement made by the victim and can be officer-assisted if the victim is unable to read or write but can sign the sworn statement. The statement can be used as substantive evidence if the victim recants, as a tool that screens for additional crimes and to aid in screening victims for the crimes of sexual assault and stalking. These forms are in Spanish and Russian as well as English. Officers have access to an interpreter at all times by using department issued cell phones and a language line to assist them.

VPD also monitors jail calls of offenders in custody for DV crimes. This has revealed evidence of the initial crime as well as new crimes such as tampering with a witness and violations of protective orders.

The VPD DV unit reviews all police reports that are taken regarding DV incidents.

The reports are screened for:
  • any involved parties that are in a high risk DV situation
  • wanted persons,
  • any involved person that is on probation or parole,
  • chronic DV
  • sex offenders involved in the DV situation
  • any follow-up needed.

For more information on Vancouver's response to IPSA, please contact Mike Davis at Mike.Davis@ci.vancouver.wa.us .