Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced on Oct. 22 a "Blueprint for Safety" that would involve the criminal justice systemwide to combat domestic violence in New Orleans. The project, funded by the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Violence Against Women (OVW), includes new guidelines for a wide range of services in domestic violence cases.
That includes new guidelines for 911 operators, NOPD Domestic Violence Unit investigations, witness protection, warrant processing, pre-trial services and other elements in the criminal justice system. The blueprint has been a work in progress following the creation of the Domestic Violence Program in the city Health Department, under program director Kati Bambrick Rodriguez. In 2011, the Health Department — under former Health Director Karen DeSalvo — received $396,500 in federal funding for the project.
"The criminal justice system has the ultimate obligation to keep communities safe, yet its sheer size and complicated structure can prevent domestic violence cases from being handled as effectively as they could be," OVW Deputy Director Bea Hanson said in a statement. "The Blueprint changes this."
In a statement, Health Director Charlotte Parent said, "We had to take proactive steps to put an end to the patterns of abuse in the homes of our city's residents. This new coordinated approach allows us to truly assess all the risks and determine the best way to protect the victims."
Louisiana consistently ranks among the most dangerous states for women with one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the U.S., according to FBI data collected from statewide crime stats. Read more about Louisiana's domestic violence problems at bestofneworleans.com/dv.