Domestic Violence Victims Have Help in Jefferson
The Crisis Response Team helps police help victims.
When a domestic violence incident occurs, the victim needs all the help he or she can get. That’s where Jefferson Township’s Crisis Response Team (CRT) comes in. The team, currently consisting of seven members, helps the Jefferson Township police when domestic violence victims are brought to headquarters, particularly after regular business hours.
“If victims come in during the day, they are sent to the county court in Morristown if they need a restraining order,” Claudette Austin-Talley, CRT team leader, said. “But after hours, we are available to help victims.”
That help entails explaining paperwork, giving the victims information on services and help that is available to them and helping them navigate the legal system to get a temporary restraining order. It also includes contacting Jersey Battered Women’s Service (JBWS) to check on availability of a safe house if victims need a place to stay.
“We like to be sure we talk to victims before they talk to a judge,” Austin-Talley said. “We want to make sure they are prepared for the process.”
When police get a call about a domestic violence incident, the dispatcher calls one of the volunteers on the list. The team member will then meet up with the victim at police headquarters.
“What that team does is great,” Jefferson police officer Bill Anderson said. “At first I have to admit I was skeptical. But now that I’ve seen the team in action, I’m impressed with how much help they give us. We have a lot to do with paperwork and such, and the CRT member really helps the victim a lot.”
“When a victim makes that step to break away, it’s a very dangerous time,” Austin-Talley said. “Not only has she decided to leave, but there’s a chance the abuser is sitting in a jail cell and angry about it. We provide emotional support for the victims, and let them know they are doing the right thing.”
Austin-Talley said that domestic violence is “an issue I’m familiar with. I wanted to pay it forward.”
So in 2007 she took the 40-hour training course offered by JBWS to get certified as a CRT member. She now attends three team meetings and two trainings a year to maintain her certification.
New members take the training and then shadow an experienced team member once or twice.
“I don’t like it to be more than twice,” Austin-Talley said. “The only way you learn what to do is to do it yourself.”
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month in October, JBWS is holding a Candles for Peace event at Gardner Field in Denville at 6 p.m.