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Coordinated Community ResponseDomestic Violence

What is the Best Practice Assessment?

By Brooke MeyerSeptember 1, 2020March 4th, 2021No Comments

The 2020 ICCR training year began in May, and since that time, teams have been taking a deep dive into their community’s systemic response to domestic violence by working through the Best Practice Assessment (BPA). What is the BPA, and why is it an integral piece of the ICCR curriculum?

For the past forty years, communities across the country have been defining and implementing reforms in the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence. Initiated by the “battered women’s movement” in the 1970s, attention to intimate partner violence has become commonplace among law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates, and many more stakeholders that intersect with the criminal justice system.

The landscape of community response looks very different in 2020 than it did in 1980. Today, there is a standard expectation of coordination and collaboration. Working relationships between advocates and police are considered the norm in many communities. Key intervening agencies often have written policies and protocols in place, some mandated by state legislatures. Since 1995, the Violence Against Women Act has provided grants that support a wide range of activities that emphasize “a coordinated community response from advocacy organizations in partnership with the criminal justice system [as] critical to reducing violent crimes of violence against women and enhancing victim safety and offender accountability.”[1]

Many communities can now look back on a coordinated community response (CCR) that spans thirty years or more. Still others are relatively new to the linkages, communication, relationships, and policy and practice changes that characterize a CCR. Regardless of where a community sits on this continuum, the ever-present questions are: How are we doing? Are we making things better or worse? Are we centralizing and strengthening safety for victims? Do our efforts enhance or diminish offender accountability? What about the accountability of community agencies and systems for their response? What is the best approach to…?

Excerpted and adapted with permission from Praxis International’s Planning and Conducting a
Best Practice Assessment of Community Response to Domestic Violence.

The Domestic Violence Best Practice Assessment Guides were designed by Praxis International to assist CCRs in answering such questions at specific points in the criminal legal system response to domestic violence crimes. Using checklists of core best practices, this relatively quick review of systemic responses to domestic violence involves a narrow scope, small number of participants, limited data collection, and some direct consultation with victims of abuse.

The BPA serves as the backbone of the ICCR curriculum and sets this program apart from other, less extensive training programs. This process encourages each team to build on their own community’s unique strengths, rather than employing a “one size fits all” approach, to ensure that the resulting CCR is the best approach for each individual community.

In upcoming issues, we will dive deeper into each step of the BPA process:

  • Step 1 – Organize and Prepare
  • 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