Mayor James E. McGreevey

Domestic Violence Response Team

The Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT), which operates under the direction of the Woodbridge Township Police Department, was created in March of 1993 in response to implementation of the Domestic Violence Act of 1991. With increased investigative and processing time for a domestic violence incident required under the new law, the response team was initiated to alleviate some of the paperwork burden of officers, and be able to provide increased attention to listening to victims of domestic violence. All Woodbridge Township Police Department officers are encouraged to utilize Response Team members to their fullest potential.

A response team member is a civilian volunteer trained to assist victims of domestic violence at police headquarters. DVRT members are not commissioned officers with sworn status and do not wear any type of uniform. They respond to calls for counseling upon notification from the police department of a domestic violence situation which meets the following criteria: 1) whenever an arrest for domestic violence is made regardless of the offense or degree; the investigating officer will ensure that an act of domestic violence has occurred prior to a response team members notification; 2) in situations where no arrest is made, but the victim wishes to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order; and 3) if the victim wishes to talk to a team member for counseling purposes.

If a domestic violence situation meets the above criteria, then all requests by the victim for a DVRT member are referred to the response team immediately. The response team member then gives the victim his/her domestic violence rights if the officer has not yet done so; helps the victim prepare the domestic violence complaint (if the victim wishes to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order); contacts the on-call judge for a TRO approval; and helps fill out the victim/witness form, if applicable. In addition, the response team member will offer whatever support services that he/she is able to provide the victim, including referral to other agencies for other problems that response team members are not trained to handle.

The police department has secured the use of pagers to summon members of the DVRT when they are on-call, and response team members have been issued ID's which identify them as DVRT members. This is for officer convenience in both contacting and identifyin a DVRT member when necessary.

Finally, with the cooperation of local motels, the police department has procured emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence (an children if applicable) for overnight emergency stays. Police officers make the necessary arrangements by telephone, and as required, transports the victim to the motel.

This comprehensive effort is supported by an approximate annual budget of $2,500 raised through police fundraisers. This budget supports the work of two police officers and 36 volunteers.

CONTACT: Lt. Rudy Modeszto, Woodbridge Police Department, 1 Main Street, Woodbridge, NJ 07095, Telephone - (908) 602-7362, Fax - (908) 602-7350.

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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