Monday October 10, 2011
Emergency protection orders now rushed electronically to judges
A new electronic system is greatly speeding up the process – saving time and potentially lives -- when victims of domestic violence in Louisville are seeking protection from an abuser. The e-EPO system takes information from victims seeking protection orders and gets it more quickly into the hands of judges and law enforcement.
“When a victim is being threatened with abuse, time can be everything,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “This new electronic system is vastly more efficient and is a huge step forward for public safety in our city.”
Individuals seeking a domestic violence or emergency protection order (EPO) previously faced a lengthy, inefficient process that relied on paper copies which often caused the victim to wait a long time for judicial review and approval. With the new system, a petition is sent electronically to a judge who can provide an electronic signature and approve the order within minutes. Once issued, the EPO is electronically sent to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office where it is transferred into LINK, the Law Enforcement Information Network of Kentucky, making the EPO available to law enforcement via mobile data computers.
The e-EPO system was funded with $170,000 in federal Recovery Act dollars through the Violence Against Women Act.
“Costing more than $8 billion every year in medical care, mental health services, and lost productivity, domestic violence is a national crisis and a personal tragedy,” said Congressman John Yarmuth, of Louisville. “But, with this new electronic system, we will help ensure that victims receive the protection they need when they need it.”
Victims seeking safety and protection orders visit the Domestic Violence Intake Center at the Hall of Justice, which is open 24/7. There, they meet with a deputy circuit clerk who sends their information and request for a protection order electronically to a judge.
“Ideally, this technology makes it possible for Emergency Protection Orders to be available to law enforcement before the victim even leaves the building,” said Circuit Court Clerk David Nicholson. “The e-EPO system gives Jefferson County an additional tool to fight domestic violence that few other jurisdictions currently possess.”
Since the new e-system went “live” on August 22, nearly 400 EPOs and more than 110 Domestic Violence Summonses have been issued electronically.
The Louisville Metro Criminal Justice Commission developed the electronic system working in partnership with the Jefferson County Circuit Clerk, the Administrative Office of the Courts, Jefferson County Sheriff, Jefferson County Attorney, the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security and others.
“Partners in this project have made possible a major advancement in protecting the victims of domestic violence who we see daily in court,” said Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell. “Speeding EPO service will save lives.”
"The timely service of EPOs has been and continues to be one of the highest priorities for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office,” said Sheriff John Aubrey. “It is our sincere hope that e-EPO will enhance this protocol and make the possibility of service of EPOs even quicker.”
Louisville’s new e-EPO system is a pilot program which has the potential to be expanded statewide.
“I’m pleased that the court system and criminal justice community have partnered successfully on this pilot project,” said Laurie K. Dudgeon, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts. “Moving the EPO/DVO petition process from paper to an electronic platform is a great leap forward in our ability to protect those affected by domestic violence.”