PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) – The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office launched a new Domestic Violence High Risk Team (DVHRT) to bring multiple disciplines together in strengthening domestic violence responses. The DVHRT, developed from practices outlined by the Governor’s Council to address sexual assault and domestic violence, identifies domestic violence cases with a heightened risk of lethality and provides a structure to collaborate on developing and implementing intervention plans.
“The goal of this team is to prevent homicides. Each one of these organizations plays a different role in protecting domestic violence victims and by collaborating, we can close off gaps in the system that arise,” said District Attorney Andrew Harrington. “My office will continue to hold perpetrators accountable but we would much rather prevent victims from being victimized by their intimate partners in the first place.”
The DVHRT complements the Berkshire District Attorney’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force. The task force focuses on building a community response to addressing domestic and sexual violence and the High Risk Team strengthens the legal and law enforcement response.
“The best tool we have to protect everyone involved is to know what we are walking into,” said North Adams Police Chief Jason Wood. “Knowing a suspect’s history, the likelihood of weapons, and other risk factors prepare our officers to respond in a way that will have the best outcome. This team provides us that information and we work with them to design intervention plans that best serve victims and save lives.”
The DA’s Office meets with the Department of Children and Families, Community
Corrections, the Massachusetts Parole Board, Department of Probation Victim Services, Elizabeth
Freeman Center, Probation Departments in all four Berkshire courts, the Berkshire County Sheriff’s
Office, Massachusetts State Police, and 13 local police departments to share and review case-specific
information. The organizations monitor and discuss risk indicators, offender history, nature of the
offense, and developments such as releases from incarceration, parole, and probation.
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