This is the second installment of the Best Practice Assessment series. Click here to read Part One.
The Best Practice Assessment (BPA) is the primary focus of ICCR teams throughout the first six months of their year in the program. In order to set themselves up for success, teams spend the first month and a half of their training year organizing and preparing their work by 1) deciding their BPA focus, 2) selecting additional BPA team members, and 3) assigning a coordinator.
Deciding the BPA Focus
Praxis International has developed seven different BPA guides to examine various aspects of a community’s systemic response to domestic violence:
- Emergency communications
- Police patrol responses
- Prosecution charging decisions
- Victim-witness services
- Bail evaluation & conditions of release
- Pre-trial release supervision & enforcement
Based on the unique needs and issues within their own counties, ICCR teams choose one or more of the above areas on which to focus their efforts. When considering a focus, teams consider the following:
- Which focus will address a known problem or challenge in their response to domestic violence cases? For example, if the team knows survivors of ongoing, coercive control are frequently being arrested for using self-defense, they may choose to examine police patrol responses.
- In which focus areas do strong relationships already exist, with key stakeholders already “at the table?” Teams are encouraged to “go where the door is open.” If, for example, the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement agency are already working closely together to ensure comprehensive domestic violence case filings, the community might choose to assess prosecution charging decisions.
Selecting Additional BPA Team Members
Based on the focus they choose, the ICCR team—made up of a prosecutor, a law enforcement officer, and a community advocate—decides what other stakeholders in their community should be involved in the BPA process. If focusing on Emergency Communications, a 911 dispatcher should be at the table. If focusing on Pre-Trial Release Supervision & Enforcement, all practitioners that execute each specialized function should be included (clerks of court, jailers, community corrections, etc).
BPA team membership and size varies based on the needs and size of each community. When making asks to key stakeholders, teams carefully select individuals who will actively participate and contribute to BPA meetings, maintain survivor and team confidentiality, and provide access to necessary agency documents for BPA team review.
Assigning a Coordinator
While all ICCR participants are ultimately responsible for leading the work of the larger BPA team, one individual is selected as the official coordinator of the BPA process.
The BPA coordinator is in charge of organizing the team meetings, distributing documents for review, and generally keeping the team on track. Coordinators are paired with a Praxis representative to guide and support them throughout every step of the process, including regular coordinator check-ins and co-facilitation of team meetings.
Once the team has decided their focus, solidified additional members, and assigned a coordinator, they are ready to move on to Step Two: Mapping the System’s Current Response.
In upcoming issues, we will dive deeper into the remaining steps of the BPA process:
- Step 2 – Mapping
- Step 3 – Review Case Records and Policies
- Step 4 – Conduct Survivor Focus Groups
- Step 5 – Develop Findings and Recommend Changes
- Step 6 – Write the BPA Report
- Step 7 – Building the CCR