The Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin developed a Coordinated Community Response to better protect victims of domestic violence and hold offenders accountable. The Coordinated Community Response team includes professionals from numerous tribal and non-tribal agencies who collaborate to share information more effectively, deliver needed services to victims, ensure victim safety, and promote offender accountability.
Coordinated Community Response
Program Running Length: 1999 – Present
Location: The tribe’s headquarters are located in Oneida, Wisconsin. Wisconsin is a Public Law 280 state.
Land Characteristics: The Oneida Reservation comprises just over 100 square miles along the Fox River in Outagamie County and Brown County, west of the Green Bay metropolitan area.
Population: There are 17,030 members of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, 4,492 of whom live on the Oneida Reservation. Many tribal members live in Green Bay, which is home to the second largest population of Native Americans in Wisconsin.
Problem to Be Addressed
The Oneida Tribe’s Coordinated Community Response was developed to address a lack of coordination between the justice and social service agencies responding to domestic violence in the community. A symptom of this problem was that domestic violence offenders were mandated to attend the Men’s Re-Education Program, but there was no mechanism in place to monitor their participation in the program or respond to non-compliance.
The Coordinated Community Response is designed to protect victims of domestic violence and hold domestic violence offenders accountable for their abusive behavior and for noncompliance with court mandates.
In response to the need for greater interagency coordination on domestic violence, tribal justice and social services agencies began to discuss ways to improve communication and work together more effectively. Another motivating factor to improve collaboration was that in 1994 all communities, including tribes, were required to develop a Coordinated Community Response to domestic violence in order to receive funding under the Violence Against Women Act. In 1999, the Oneida Tribe was awarded a Service Training for Officers and Prosecutors (S.T.O.P.) grant from the federal Office on Violence Against Women for this purpose.
The Oneida Tribe began building the Coordinated Community Response by engaging key stakeholders from within and outside the tribe. Outside partners included state courts, county prosecutors’ offices, county probation and parole, the state department of corrections, and local domestic violence shelters. Tribal partners included tribal police, probation, court, housing, family services, elderly services, and behavioral health. As part of this process, these partners worked together to define and understand their respective roles. In addition, the partners memorialized their agreements with new written policies and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). For example, county and tribal police modified their internal protocols to allow swifter access to important case information. In addition, the tribe invited outside partners to tour the reservation and learn about the tribe’s self-governance and services, which helped non-tribal service providers understand important issues related to Native culture and tribal sovereignty.
Over the next 15 years, the Coordinated Community Response continued to grow, building relationships with organizations in diverse but related fields such as: Wise Women Gathering Place, a not-for-profit that specializes in midwifery; White Bison substance abuse treatment services; Reach Counseling Services; and a local sexual assault program that works with Native victims. The tribe brought in experts to provide training on special topics, increasing their capacity to handle different kinds of cases. Furthermore, the Coordinated Community Response came to be a key element in the success of the Men’s Re-Education Program, which has seen improved compliance rates.
Today, victims are better protected because the gaps in communication between agencies have been closed, services are being delivered more effectively, and offenders are being held accountable. Tribal and non-tribal service providers, court staff, and law enforcement are in constant communication and are able to provide swifter interventions for non-compliance. In addition, the member agencies support each other in their work, including through development of joint grant proposals. The Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin is one of a very small number of tribes that has been able to develop and sustain a Coordinated Community Response over time.
Program Goals and Objectives
The Coordinated Community Response works to increase interagency collaboration, enhance victim safety, and promote a consistent and effective response to domestic violence in the community. It also seeks to hold offenders accountable in part by ensuring that offenders complete the Men’s Re-Education Program, address their violent behavior, and become grounded in cultural and spiritual traditions that promote respect for women.
The Coordinated Community Response consists of a team of professionals from both tribal and non-tribal agencies, including law enforcement and service providers. The team meets once a month for about an hour to review cases, share information, modify protocols, and participate in cross-training events. An average of twenty agencies are represented at each meeting. A “red flag list” of high- risk offenders is discussed and serves as a guide for planning interagency intervention and response. The Oneida Coordinated Community Response team also participates in American Indians Against Abuse, a coalition of eleven Wisconsin tribes.
Trainings for the Coordinated Community Response team vary in topic and are provided by the tribe or partner agencies. For example, a sexual assault program has provided training for non-Native service providers on working with Native Americans. The District Attorney’s Office has trained police officers on writing effective police reports. And staff from the Oneida Health Service received training in how to screen patients for domestic violence and sexual assault, and how to make referrals following any disclosures.
The Coordinated Community Response team uses tribal traditions as part of its approach. Team members attend regular sweat lodge ceremonies hosted by the tribe. When a team member retires or moves away, the program coordinator honors him or her with a smudging ceremony, an honor song, or a gift such as a traditional blanket. The program also sponsors community events. For example, they host a tent at the annual powwow, and they organize domestic violence and sexual assault awareness events for the community.
The Oneida Coordinated Community Response team is led by a program coordinator. His position is housed within the Oneida Domestic Violence Program, and he also coordinates the Oneida Men’s Re-Education Program.
PLANNING & IMPLEMENTATION
The Coordinated Community Response is supported by a Violence Against Women Act grant, first received from the federal Office on Violence Against Women in 1998 and renewed every three years. In addition, a “Service Training for Officers and Prosecutors” (S.T.O.P.) grant from the Office on Violence Against Women funds cross-training events. Additional funding has come from a variety of other sources over the years.
The Coordinated Community Response team has also helped the tribe acquire a number of grants, including a Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement & Leadership through Alliance (DELTA) grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state grants to develop educational and preventative strategies and to address sexual assault.
Each year, the Oneida Tribe designates funds to send a prosecutor, a tribal police officer, and youth advocates to the Annual Family Justice Center Conference to continue their professional development (http://www.familyjusticecenter.org/training-main/annual-conference.html). In addition, the tribe has hosted a national training on Coordinated Community Response.
The Coordinated Community Response is a collaborative partnership between the following tribal and non-tribal agencies:
- Oneida Domestic Violence Program
- Oneida Police Department
- Oneida Health Services
- Oneida Elderly Services
- Oneida Housing
- Indian Child Welfare
- District Attorney’s Offices of Brown and Outagamie Counties
- Brown and Outagamie County Courts
- Brown County Probation and Parole
- Brown County Sexual Assault Center
- Brown and Outagamie Police Departments
- Harbor House Shelter
- Golden House Shelter
Factors Contributing to Success
The coordinator attributes the program’s success to the vast experience gained over 15 years of operation and to the dedicated collaboration of all partners involved.
Program staff have learned that the Men’s Re-Education Program functions more effectively now that it is reinforced by the Coordinated Community Response. Many agencies involved have learned that through carefully defined roles, thoughtful collaboration, and consistent communication, they can overcome mistrust in order to better protect Oneida families.
The Coordinated Community Response has reduced gaps in victim services and has increased participation in the Men’s Re-Education Program. The team has also secured several grants to fund key services. The team helped the Oneida Tribe create a Domestic Violence Resolution, which sets out the tribe’s formal approach to combating domestic violence. A palm card has also been created that lists available services and can be distributed to victims.
Tribal agencies have implemented new policies to ensure sensitivity to domestic violence. For example, both Oneida Tribal Housing and the Oneida Health Services have implemented screening tools for domestic violence. The Coordinated Community Response provides annual training for the Oneida Police Department as is specified in the Memorandum of Understanding. Memoranda of Understanding are reviewed and updated every three years, in conjunction with the development of grant proposals.
The program’s success is recognized by professionals in the field of domestic violence, including the U.S. Justice Department, which designated it a “model program,” in large part due to its collaboration with local counties. In addition, five members of the Coordinated Community Response were invited to the Government-to-Government Consultation at the Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico, in 2007 to provide a panel discussion on collaboration.
The program’s accomplishments are well documented by local media and by program staff. The program coordinator monitors attendance via sign-in sheets, takes minutes of all meetings, and documents all ongoing activities such as trainings and presentations. He keeps records of all memoranda of understanding between departments and also tracks the number of clients using victim services.
Recently, an offender on probation was re-arrested for assaulting his partner. The municipal police arrived and made the arrest. However, the district attorney’s office did not receive the police report and was unable to pursue a criminal prosecution. Neither probation nor victim services were notified, which meant that they did not file a probation violation or offer services to the victim. The Coordinated Community Response team called on the municipal police department to respond according to established domestic violence protocols, allowing a criminal case to be initiated. As a result, the offender was held accountable for his actions and the responding agency was guided toward the appropriate response to the crime.
Back to top