The city of Chicago has launched a pilot program designed to prevent domestic violence by identifying households at high risk for repeated and increasingly serious incidents, elevating the law enforcement response to those households, connecting higher-risk victims to support services, and prioritizing higher-risk offenders for prosecution. The program, which is launching in one of Chicago’s 22 police districts, is a coordinated effort by a task force consisting of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, the Chicago Police Department and the Department of Family and Support Service.
A key component of the program is a series of questions that police officers are required to ask victims, such as whether the offender has ever prevented the victim from seeking assistance or threatened to use a weapon against her or her children. If the assessment flags a victim as being at elevated risk, a special protocol applies, including referring the household to the state’s attorney’s targeted abuser call (TAC) unit. The TAC unit assigns cases to senior prosecutors, applies an additional level of supervisory review to cases, and connects victims to service providers.
The pilot program also incorporates mandatory, domestic-violence-specific training for Chicago Police Officers. The training has several components, including a course designed to improve domestic violence case reports and an interactive tool that refreshes instruction on the vital steps involved when responding to domestic violence incidents.