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Winnebago County Creates Domestic-Violence Alert System

Winnebago County has launched an alert system to give domestic-violence victims prompt notice when an order of protection has been served, which could mean added protection from their abusers. (Pixabay)
Winnebago County has launched an alert system to give domestic-violence victims prompt notice when an order of protection has been served, which could mean added protection from their abusers. (Pixabay)
June 13, 2018

ROCKFORD, Ill. - Winnebago County has launched a new automated system designed to alert domestic-violence victims when an order of protection they filed has been issued.

The Winnebago County Sheriff's office said it serves more than 6,500 protection orders and related documents per year, but people who request an order had to call county officials to keep checking on whether it had been served.

Karen Gill, vice president for operations at the Remedies Renewing Lives shelter, said that when a victim has to make repeated check-in calls, it can prompt them to relive the abuse. She added that abusers often become angry and retaliate against protection orders.

"And so, knowing when he gets served can put you on more alertness that he may try to do something to harm you," she said.

With the new system, victims receive an automated phone call within 20 minutes after a sheriff's deputy reports serving a protection order.

In 2015, the U.S. Justice Department announced 44 grants totaling more than $26 million, to encourage greater enforcement of protection orders among cities and counties. Cook and Winnebago counties each received funding.

Andrea Carlson, who coordinates the Winnebago County Office on Violence Against Women Arrest Grant, said the county received nearly $500,000 and decided to make use of existing technology.

"So, I.T. looked at an alert system that we currently use for things like inclement weather and was able to link that with our law-enforcement locals, so that petitioners of orders of protection wanting to use the system can elect to enroll," she said.

Petitioners who want to use the alert system can enroll at the same time they request an order of protection, by providing a safe and working phone number. In Rockford alone, one-third of violent crime reported to the police department is related to domestic violence.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - IL