The worst-case scenario: A police officer arrives at a domestic violence shelter and tells the shelter worker that he needs to speak with a shelter resident. The advocate tells the officer she can neither confirm nor deny that the person is a resident and blocks the door. The officer says that if she doesn’t open the door he will arrest her for obstruction of justice.
Even with well-meaning professionals, situations like this can and do escalate unnecessarily. In order to serve victims more safely and effectively, relationships between domestic violence advocates and law enforcement need to be strengthened and a common understanding of respective roles, approaches and goals developed.
In 2013, the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NMCADV) received a grant from the CVRC to create a statewide Confidentiality Task Force and come up with some best practices and training regarding domestic violence related confidentiality issues. The work of the Task Force is compiled into a comprehensive package that includes:
A Two-part Confidentiality Manual:
Two Quick Guides:
And a short, online training for individual self-study or group training:
New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy accredited version at: http://lawenforcement.nmcadv.org
There is also a version for advocates and DV program staff at: http://etraining.nmcadv.org/
Recognizing that police officers and domestic violence advocates are very busy professionals, these tools are designed be easy to use, practical and helpful. The Task Force encourages you to distribute and use the materials as a basis for cross training and inter-agency policy development.