Among the most difficult and sensitive calls for police assistance are those involving domestic violence. When responding to a domestic disturbance, officers must be both alert and impartial, and must be concerned with the needs of victims where domestic violence is apparent or alleged. Police are well aware that situations, which appear minor at first glance, can mask a much more serious condition.
In response to the growing problem of domestic violence in our community, a partnership has been formed between the Northwestern District Attorney's Office, Safe Passage, the Northampton Police Department and other area police departments.
The purpose of the Domestic Violence Intervention Project (DVIP) is to provide victims of domestic violence with immediate supportive intervention by trained domestic violence advocates from local established battered women's programs. A multi-agency, early intervention approach has been demonstrated to result in more support and services for the victim, fewer repeat calls for the police, an increase in interventions with abusers and more successful prosecution.
Officers commonly respond to reports of domestic violence. We recognize that domestic violence does not discriminate and can occur in all relationships including those that are comprised of gay, straight, or transgendered individuals. The following chart illustrates the number of domestic violence calls that Northampton Police Officers responded to between 2006 and 2015. It also details how many of those calls resulted in arrest and how many resulted in criminal complaints.
The Northampton Police Department is a leader in domestic violence response and investigation. We collaborate with local resources to ensure that our officers are well-educated on best practices in the area, police reports are well-written to support families as they move through court process, and we provide victims and families with a wide range of medical, mental health, and support services resources. Arrest is the preferred response in a case where domestic violense has occurred. If the perpetrator has left the scene, officers will file a criminal complaint in the form of a summons or a warrant request.
On-site Advocacy Services for Violence and Abuse Issues
If you are a resident of Northampton or have experienced relationship violence or abuse, sexual assault, or stalking in Northampton, our Civilian Advocate is available to provide confidential support and advocacy for you.
What is a Civilian Advocate?
A Civilian Advocate is someone who is not a police officer but works on-site at the station to provide services for the community. Our Civilian Advocate is an employee of the Center for Women and Communities and is housed at the Northampton Police Department. They specialize in domestic violence, sexual assault, and related issues.
Civilian Advocates provide confidential advocacy, support, safety planning, and referrals to victims/survivors after a crime has been reported to the police department.
**They can also assist victims/survivors who have not reported a crime.
If you have questions about the legal system or what happens next in the process, they can help to find the answer and offer support along the way. You can arrange to meet with them at the Northampton Police Department and other locations where you would like support or accompaniment, including district court.
Civilian Advocate's email - firstname.lastname@example.org
This project was supported by Grant No. 2010-WE-AX-0028 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.
Obtaining a Restraining Order:
You must go to the Northampton District Court to obtain a restraining order. The Court has trained domestic violence advocates that are there to assist you with completing the paperwork. If court is not in session, the Northampton Police Department can assist you with obtaining an emergency restraining order. Please come to the Northampton Police Department at 29 Center St, Northampton, MA.
Legal Requirements for obtaining a 209A Protective order:
In order to get a restraining order, a judge must recognize that you are being abused or afraid of the person you are getting the order against. You can request an order against:
- a spouse or former spouse
- a present or former household member
- a relative by blood or a present or former relative by marriage
- the parent of your minor child
- a person with whom you have or had a substantial dating relationship
How the Northampton Police Department can help:
When coming to the Northampton Police Department to obtain an emergency restraining order we will assist you with completing the application and affidavit (written statement). We will then telephone an “on-call judge” who will review your application and affidavit. The judge will likely want to talk to you on the telephone to determine if the circumstances allow for an emergency restraining order to be issued.
Serving the Defendant with the Order:
If an order is issued, we will provide you with a copy of the order and then keep a copy to serve the defendants. We will make all attempts to serve the defendant with the order. If the defendant is out of town or out of state we will contact the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction to request their help in serving the defendant.
Your appearance in Court:
After obtaining an emergency restraining order you will still need to attend a court hearing, usually 3-10 days after you obtain the order, where a judge will review this order. The court will have an advocate on site to assist you through this process and answer your questions. The defendant will also have a right to contest the order.
What happens at Court:
1. All restraining orders are reviewed by a Judge between the hours of 8:30 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. in a courtroom you will be instructed to appear in.
2. When your name is called, go to the front of the courtroom, up to the Judge's bench or where you are otherwise instructed to stand. The microphone records your testimony for the court, it does not make your voice louder.
3. For the Judge to issue a restraining order, the Judge must determine that the person seeking the order is in fear of the defendant. This fear can be based on the recent incident and/or the history of abuse.
4. You can request that the defendant leave the home and stay away; you can request that the defendant refrain from abuse; you can request custody of your children, support for your children; and restitution for damages caused by the defendant as well as requesting custody of family pets.
5. The NO CONTACT portion of the order means the defendant cannot come near you, cannot call you, cannot write you letters or send you cards, cannot send you flowers or leave you notes, and cannot send someone else to talk to or call you on the defendant's behalf. It does not matter whether or not the contact involves any threat. The defendant simply CANNOT contact you.
6. The Judge can order the Police to collect from the defendant any guns, FID card and/or keys to your home, car, etc.. If you want any of these taken away from the defendant when he is served with papers by the Police, make sure you ask the Judge to order this.
7. If the Judge gives you custody of any children under the age of eighteen, you have temporary legal custody. The decision is YOURS as to whether or not visitation will occur. Many times individuals arrange for a third party to communicate with the defendant regarding visitation issues. Note: A Probate Court order can overrule the District Court 209A order for custody or visitation.
8. The order that you first receive is called the "temporary order" and is valid for up to ten days (according to the court calendar). If you want your restraining order extended beyond the ten day period, you MUST return to the courthouse on the date indicated on your order. On that day, you can request that the order be extended for up to one year. The defendant has the right to appear at this ten day hearing. If you are still in fear of the defendant, explain this to the Judge and request an extension of the order. KEEP YOUR COPY OF THE ORDER WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES
9. Often, people requesting a 209A have been the victims of crimes. You have the right to file criminal complaints. In domestic violence situations, the complaints may include assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, threats, malicious destruction and stalking. Incidents should be reported to the Police Department where the crime was committed. Applications for complaints are filed with the Clerk's Office. If you have any questions about this process, please call a Victim Advocate in the District Attorney's Office.
10. If at any time you decide to modify or drop the 209A order, you MUST return to the Clerk's office and have the order changed or dropped (vacated) by the Judge. If the order is not vacated and the defendant has contact with you, the defendant is subject to mandatory arrest.
11. As the plaintiff, you can not violate your own order. The order is against the defendant, not you. The defendant must abide by the conditions written on the order.
12. If there is any violation of this order, contact the Police immediately. A violation of the order is a criminal offense and the defendant can be arrested for violating the restraining order.
Domestic Violence Resources
The following programs provide services to victims of domestic violence, including shelter, counseling, support groups, and legal assistance. All of the services are free and confidential, unless noted otherwise.
Below is a list of services within the Western Massachusetts/Pioneer Valley Community, focusing on the Hampshire County area. Several of the resources below, including Safe Passage, Center for Women and Communities and NELCWIT, offer services and support for emotionally unhealthy or abusive relationships whether or not they are physically abusive.
SAFE PASSAGE: Hampshire County’s Domestic Violence Agency. Safe Passages offer support, shelter, counseling, and resources for survivors, children, and families affected by domestic violence. Located in Northampton.
24-hour Crisis Hotline: (413) 586-5066 Office: (413) 586-1125
Center for Women and Communities: (CWC): Hampshire County’s Rape Crisis Center. (CWC): Hampshire County’s Rape Crisis Center. Center for Women and Communities Rape Crisis Program also offers support and counseling for those affected by abusive relationships and domestic violence. We work closely with Safe Passage. Located in Amherst.
24-hour Crisis/support line: (413) 545-0800
New England Learning Center for Women in Transition (N.E.L.C.W.I.T) Provides domestic violence and rape crisis services for Franklin County, including counseling, advocacy and referrals. Located in Greenfield. 24-hour Crisis Hotline: (413) 772-0806. NELCWIT also offers a Native American Sexual Violence Prevention and Survivors Service. Call 413-772-0871 for more information.
Womanshelter/Companeras: Domestic violence crisis/support line and bilingual services in English/Spanish. Located in Holyoke and serves the greater Holyoke area. Amherst residents are welcome to call. 24-hour crisis/support line: 1-877-536-1628
Safelink: a Massachusetts Statewide Hotline multilingual, 24 hour service that has info on what shelters currently have space available. 1-877-785-2020
National Domestic Violence Hotline 24-hour hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
DrugRehab.com Website with mission to equip people and their families with information, resources and tools to overcome addiction and lead a lifelong recovery. A section of the website it dedicated to domestic abuse and sexual violence.
SAFEPLAN: SAFEPLAN advocates are trained to offer court-based advocacy, including helping victims of domestic violence plan for their safety and obtain 209A restraining orders (also called protective orders) through the courts. You can find a SAFEPLAN advocate at the Belchertown or Northampton Court House during court hours.
Victim/Witness Assistance: As part of the Northwestern District Attorney's Office, Victim/Witness Assistance provides information and advocacy for victims of crime involved in criminal court proceedings, including information on victim compensation and victim rights. NOTE: Services are free but not confidential - advocates are employees of the district attorney's office.
Main Office - Northampton: 413-586-5780.
Satellite Office - Eastern Hampshire District Court, Belchertown: 413-323-5275