NEW ORLEANS, LA—On Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced that the City of New Orleans is launching a new unified approach to domestic violence. Dubbed the Blueprint for Safety, this project was funded by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). It introduces a coordinated criminal justice response to domestic violence cases from 911 calls through probation and parole.
“A diverse coalition of leaders from across the city have come together to take a unified stand against domestic violence,” Mayor Landrieu said. “Our mission is clear: better respond to domestic violence, so that we can stop the violence and save lives.”
Read Mayor Landrieu's Foreword from the Blueprint for Safety.
Other speakers participating in today’s launch event included Bea Hanson, OVW Principal Deputy Director; Charlotte Parent, Director of the New Orleans Health Department; Michael Harrison, Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD); Leon Cannizzaro, Orleans Parish District Attorney; Marlin Gusman, Orleans Parish Sheriff; Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier, Domestic Violence Monitoring Court; Judge Desiree Charbonnet, Municipal Court; Judge Bernadette D’Souza, Civil District Court; Adolph Lopez, Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections-New Orleans District; J.P. Morrell, Louisiana State Senator; Helena Moreno, Louisiana State Representative; Susan Guidry, District A Councilmember; Mary Claire Landry, New Orleans Family Justice Center; and Tania Tetlow, Tulane Law School Domestic Violence Clinic.
To develop this policy, the New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) received $396,500 in federal grant funding from OVW in 2011. By focusing on identifying victims who are in danger, the Blueprint for Safety is designed to prevent victims of domestic violence from falling through the cracks. It will allow the city to respond more quickly and ably to domestic violence.
Principal Deputy Director of OVW Bea Hanson said, “Across the country, we have learned the hard way that great harm and tragedy can occur when criminal justice agencies do not coordinate their interventions on multiple levels of information gathering and sharing or do not use sound intervention approaches. 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. The Blueprint changes this.”
The New Orleans Blueprint for Safety provides complete agency guidelines that prioritize victim engagement and hold offenders accountable at each point in the criminal justice response: 911 Communications, New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) patrol and investigation, Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO), the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office, Domestic Violence Monitoring Court, Municipal Court and the Louisiana Department of Corrections.
Read more about the New Orleans Blueprint for Safety agency highlights.
NOHD Director Charlotte Parent said, “Extensive research has demonstrated that domestic violence is a public health concern. Victims of abuse are more likely to suffer from hypertension, heart attacks and mental health issues like depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome. 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.”
United States Congressman Cedric Richmond said, “Domestic violence continues to be a scourge that deteriorates the overall health and safety of society. This partnership with the Louisiana Health Department and the Department of Justice will allow us to ensure that victims are properly taken care of while holding offenders accountable for their crimes. I look forward to the implementation of the Blue Print for Safety project so that the victims of theses heinous offenses will be provided with the support and resources they need.”
The city undertook an intensive community assessment, including NOPD ride-alongs, 911 sit-alongs, review of police reports, and practitioner interviews. With the help of community partners, the city held listening sessions with victims of domestic violence. The project’s local advocacy partner, the New Orleans Family Justice Center, along with the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies, Women with a Vision, and Total Community Action, were critical partners in grounding the policies in victims’ experiences.
“The Blueprint for Safety will provide our officers with the tools they need to improve our response to domestic violence,” said Chief Harrison.
Senator J.P. Morrell said, “The new Blueprint for Safety model will further vital efforts to eradicate domestic violence in our City and will also work to align policies across agencies to improve their responses to domestic violence cases. This new policy, in association with legislation that Rep. Moreno and myself worked to pass this past legislative session, will provide greater support for victims of these horrible crimes.”
Senator Karen Carter Peterson said, "I'm proud to see New Orleans is leading the way with this cooperative, community effort to help end Domestic Violence," said Senator Peterson. "This kind of cooperation between local and Federal partners will enhance our community's ability to improve the safety and health of our citizens. I hope it serves as a model for cities throughout Louisiana."
"I am so encouraged to see New Orleans take a leadership role to improve how domestic violence victims are treated. Coordinated response to victims and training for law enforcement will greatly improve the outcome of these cases and give victims the confidence to come forward and seek help, " said Rep. Helena Moreno District 93, New Orleans.
At-large Councilmember Jason Williams said, “I am very proud that the City of New Orleans will become the first of 3 demonstration cities to implement a model criminal justice response to domestic violence—the Blueprint for Safety. The safety of our women and children is imperative. This program is a crucial step in our focusing on that.”
District A Councilmember Susan Guidry said, “As Chair of the Council’s Criminal Justice Committee, I would like to thank the Health Department, the Department of Justice, and the Office of Violence Against Women for their work on this issue that affects far too many families in our city. The unified policy introduced in the Blueprint for Safety is a tremendous step toward improving treatment of domestic violence across our criminal justice agencies. Unfortunately, it is often the case that the trauma of experiencing domestic violence is compounded by inconsistent, confusing, and insensitive treatment in the criminal justice system, and this new model for reform will improve our City’s ability to protect, support, and aid families, women, and children when they are most vulnerable.”
District E Councilmember James A. Gray II said, “This is an issue of critical importance that too often doesn’t get adequate attention. Coordinating the response to domestic violence cases from reporting the crime to the offender’s probation will save lives. The City of New Orleans deserves kudos for being chosen as one of the three test cities for this federal program.”
District D Councilmember Jared Brossett said, “Domestic violence is all too common in society. But yet, how we have dealt with cases of domestic violence has been all too inconsistent. So the formation of a unified policy approach is something that I welcome.”