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Domestic Violence ‘Situations’ Often Respond Best To Counseling Without Direct Police Presence

by Connie Sartini
Groton Police Chief Michael Luth and Sergeant Rachael Mead updated the Select Board following a discussion that grew out of the death of a Groton woman in her home, and advised the Board of what is already done by the Groton Police Department.
     Chief Luth said that currently the Department has one person that oversees domestic violence calls. He stressed that in domestic violence calls, the individuals sometimes don’t react well to Police and are hesitant to talk.
     He pointed out that the “Fitchburg Police Department has a domestic violence advocate on staff and that it is working well.” This advocate meets with the victims and tries to get them help.
     Sgt. Mead noted that it takes time to develop these relationships. If the victim is a female, they like to talk with another female. 
     Chief Luth explained that COIN is a 10-town consortium that has clinicians to assist the departments. “With COIN, we can go back with clinicians and help people get services.” Mostly this is used for mental health issues and substance abuse. “I would like to use this as a model for domestic violence.”
     Select Board member Josh Degen suggested looking at the “Municipal Modernization Act, where we could cross town boundaries to hire a domestic violence counselor and share the cost.”
     Chief Luth stressed that in domestic violence calls, the individuals sometimes don’t react well to Police and are hesitant to talk. He agreed that this would have “great value.” He added, “Under the COIN model, Sgt. Mead helps area towns diffuse situations. In domestic violence situations, it often helps not to have a police officer there.”
     Select Board member Becky Pine said she learned that Westford has a Town Committee on Domestic Violence. She offered a suggestion that posters could be placed in bathroom stalls at locations around town that would have “tear off ” slips with phone numbers so that people would have a place to call for help. Chief Luth felt that this could be helpful to people.
     Selectman Josh Degen suggested reaching out to the local churches to help make this information available.
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