Attorney General Rolls Out New Statewide Domestic Violence Reporting System

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Attorney General Lynn Fitch on Tuesday announced the launch of a new statewide database to track domestic violence crimes.

Law enforcement and victim advocates have long lamented the lack of a reliable system to track domestic violence incidents and protective orders to allow courts and law enforcement to make decisions. more informed when interacting with suspected abusers.

Reportbeam, the previous version of the database, was not aligned with the law enforcement system in use, so creating multiple reports was tedious and time-consuming for officers. The system also did not allow for the same level of detail as the new version, which was created by the same developers as the eCrash system used by officers for crash reports.

The new database is “…a user-friendly system that will promote accurate, secure, readable and quickly accessible domestic violence reporting,” Fitch said in a statement. “We’ve made it as easy as possible to get the information they need when (law enforcement officers) arrive on the scene and to protect victims throughout the process.”

Along with detailed information about the victim, the abuser, their relationship, and any alleged abuse, officers can also upload photos and identify injuries on an interactive image of a body.

“If they (the officers) take pictures with their phone, they can immediately upload them to their report, which means we don’t lose (evidence) between the time the officer answers and the time they return. to the office to report,” said Sandy Middleton, executive director of the Center for Violence Prevention. “That’s a huge advantage.”

There’s also a field for the Lethality Assessment Protocol, a questionnaire officers can use at the scene of a call to determine if a victim is in immediate danger and connect them to resources.

Real-time access to the database, called the Mississippi Domestic Violence Reporting (MDVR) system, will also mean law enforcement will be equipped with more information when responding to dangerous calls. The system allows officers to look up addresses and determine if there have been previous incidents and the specific details of what happened.

This context is important: domestic violence and the risk the victim faces center on patterns of behavior and an accumulation of power and control by the abuser over time. Without this historical knowledge, the police cannot accurately assess the degree of danger of the aggressor, not only for his victim, but for the police officer.

“It’s a huge blow in the arm for officer safety,” Pearl Police Chief Dean Scott said, noting that domestic violence calls are the most dangerous for law enforcement. “It gives the officer the ability to know the background and send multiple units for strength in numbers.”

Clerks also have access to the database and can upload information such as bail conditions and other relevant information about the assailant or victim, said Michelle Williams, chief of staff for the attorney general.

“He can track the whole (domestic violence incident) through the system, including the court decision,” or whether the abuser was convicted, pleaded guilty, or some other outcome.

A recurring theme in Mississippi Today’s “Underreported and Underpunished” series was the disjointed nature of tracking domestic violence in Mississippi. After a woman’s attacker was repeatedly allowed out on bail despite the law requiring his bail to be revoked, a district attorney said it was likely a city court was not in court. aware of other charges brought by the abuser in another court.

READ CONTINUED: How the Criminal Justice System Fails Victims of Domestic Violence in Mississippi.

This system would allow courts to easily determine if someone has already been arrested or convicted in another part of the state.

The Attorney General’s office will also introduce a new system for tracking domestic violence protection orders or a court order to provide protection to a victim of domestic violence.

“Our orders of protection are enforced in all jurisdictions, but in the past we had to tell our clients, ‘Keep your paperwork with you,’” Middleton said. “Because if law enforcement doesn’t have access to it or someone doesn’t get in there properly, that’s a huge security issue. The ability to have all of this information in one place is a big problem, and we think it will significantly improve the safety of victims.

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