Help sought in Mendham Township for victims of domestic violence

By Phil Garber

August 28, 2012

MENDHAM TWP. – The volunteers who work with the police and are trained to help ease the emotional pain suffered by victims of domestic violence aren’t called on too often.

But when their help is enlisted, the crisis response team members can mean the difference between relief and prolonged fear by the woman, man or child who has been victimized.

The problem is, however, with a shortage of crisis volunteers.

Crisis volunteers can be called at any time. There are presently three volunteers, all women, to cover the township and borough, including two volunteers who have been involved more than 11 years and a third who has three years on the post.

That is adequate under normal circumstances but there have been times when police have had to call in volunteers from other towns, according to Sgt. Brian Herchick who has coordinated the crisis response team since 2000.

Herchick said six volunteers would be adequate to help out with the average of 10 to 20 cases of domestic violence reported locally each year, often including the same families.

Problems sometime arise during holidays when crisis volunteers may be on vacation and are unavailable. Sometimes the available volunteer can’t respond because he knows the victim. Other times a victim wants a counselor of the same sex and one is not available.

“You’re dealing with people at the worst stage of their life,” Herchick said. “We want residents who want to help others in the community.”

Jersey Battered Women’s Service, which co-sponsors the crisis response programs, has recently asked police departments to expand their search for crisis volunteers.

Prior knowledge of domestic violence is not required but part of the problem in finding volunteers is the required, 40 hours of training at the Morris County Firefighters and Police Training Academy in Morris Township.

The training goes over many aspects of domestic violence from how to provide care to victims, to the effects of violence on families to working with male victims.

After police have taken the alleged assailant into custody, the victim is given the option of speaking with a crisis worker, who will not be identified. The suspect meanwhile is kept in a secure processing room, away from the victim.

“The likelihood of the suspect and the victim or the crisis worker getting together is zero,” Herchick said.

The meetings with crisis workers usually last from a half hour to two hours and are held in a quiet, secure office at the police station. The victim is often more comfortable speaking with a non-uniformed crisis worker rather than an armed uniformed officer. If children are involved, a worker from the N.J. Division of Youth and Family Services also is called in.

The discussions between victim and crisis worker are not recorded and the crisis volunteer is immune from being forced to testify about anything he or the victim say. The crisis volunteer’s main task is to listen to the victim and suggest possible ways to get help. Whether legal or social, for the victim and the children.

“It’s very beneficial from a police standpoint,” Herchick said.

Applicants must be 25 or older, have access to transportation, possess a valid driver’s license, be willing to serve on an on-call shift basis, and submit to background investigations and fingerprinting.

Jersey Battered Women’s Service will be conducting two training options from mid-September to early November. A daytime course is available on Fridays between Sept. 21 and Oct. 26. The evening class will be held Tuesday and Thursday evenings with one Saturday class beginning Sept. 18.

To request a Crisis Response Team application, call the Crisis Response Team Manager at (973) 267-7520, extension 129 or call Herchick at (973) 543-2581 extension 163.

Source: New Jersey Hills

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Police seek volunteers for domestic violence team

By Alex Biese

Aug 29, 2012

MARLBORO — The Police Department, working with 180 Turning Lives Around, is seeking volunteers for the Marlboro Domestic Violence Response Team, according to a news release issued by township police Capt. Steven Mennona.

180 Turning Lives Around is a private nonprofit organization based in Hazlet that has partnered with the Marlboro police since 2000.

According to the release, volunteer advocates are trained to empower victims to make decisions about their lives. Identities of volunteers are kept anonymous, and while prior knowledge of domestic violence is not required, bilingual capability is helpful, according to the release.

Applicants must be 18 or older, have access to transportation and a valid driver’s license, be willing to serve on an on-call shift basis, take part in an interview process and submit to background investigations and fingerprinting. Volunteers also will have to complete 40 hours of training and attend monthly meetings.

For more information, contact Lt. Joseph Tomazic at jtomazic@marlboropd.org or 732-536-0100.

Source: APP.com