For the past 18 months, MCEDV has been working to train Maine law enforcement officers, advocates, prosecutors, and other criminal justice partners in the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment, an evidence-based, validated tool that predicts the likelihood that a domestic violence offender will re-offend. According to MCEDV Program Coordinator Margo Batsie, “The statewide implementation of ODARA provides the criminal justice system with a new tool that will help ensure victim safety and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.”
In 2012, MCEDV worked with members of the Maine Commission on Domestic and Sexual Abuse and the Maine Criminal Justice Academy to initiate legislation addressing the need for a evidence-based, validated domestic violence risk assessment tool for use by the criminal justice community. In May of 2012, An Act to Adopt the Use of Standardized Risk Assessment in the Management of Domestic Violence Crimes (19-A MRSA §4012, sub-§ 6) was signed into law, and is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2015.
In the interim, MCEDV and our partners have been laying the groundwork that will allow ODARA to succeed in Maine. The Maine Criminal Justice Academy has included ODARA as one of the four mandatory yearly training topics during 2014, ensuring that all Maine law enforcement officers will receive training in using the tool. Batsie has been on the road, training in the northern, central and eastern parts of the state, for the past 18 months. MCEDV has partnered with the Violence Intervention Partnership of Cumberland County to provide training for the criminal justice community in Maine’s southern counties. In addition, MCEDV is collaborating with the Maine Chiefs of Police to create an online training for law enforcement to support the in-person training options.
With the deadline fast approaching, many law enforcement agencies have already begun integrating the use of ODARA into their daily practice.
It is not only the law enforcement community that will be impacted by ODARA. The new tool has implications across the criminal justice system. Thus, MCEDV is also providing training and technical assistance for prosecutors, advocates and other criminal justice partners. In several areas of the state, law enforcement, prosecution and advocates are working together to implement ODARA in community-specific ways, such as creating new domestic violence forms that will incorporate the ODARA tool and provide law enforcement and prosecution with a mechanism to gather and share vital information. Local agencies are enhancing safety planning through domestic violence high risk response teams, using risk assessment as one element of their work.
As the January deadline approaches, MCEDV will continue to provide training to law enforcement agencies, and will shift into technical assistance mode, providing support to ensure successful implementation of ODARA. Anyone who is interested in hosting training or who has specific implementation questions should contact Margo Batsie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207.430.8334.
Margo Batsie trains officers at the Augusta Police Department in ODARA.