Blueprint for Safety launched in Marquette

Published: Dec. 13, 2017 at 9:04 PM EST
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Marquette County criminal justice practitioners announced the launching of the “Blueprint for Safety."

This program, the first of its kind in the U.P., brings all eight agencies of Marquette County, from police, to the women's shelter to the prosecutor’s office, together to provide more safety for alleged victims of domestic abuse.

One of the primary functions of this inter-agency effort to combat domestic abuse, is to fill in any gaps that could allow victims or offenders to fall through law enforcement cracks.

"What it is going to enable us to do is not overlook something, and that's probably the most important things, we don't want to overlook a situation, so we can really get a clear picture of what's happening in the relationship," Forsyth Township chief of police Gordon Warchock said.

Officials say this program gives them more tools to connect the dots in a domestic violence case to identify and prevent potentially bigger problems.

"A lot of times however what we find is that people are reluctant to take that step because they don't know what to expect from it," Marquette's Blueprint for Safety advocate Heather Addison said. "So by having an advocate who can explain what the process will be, we have found that more people are willing actually to talk, to be a more active part of that case."

"Police will go to a domestic violence scene and the victim, if they've been a victim of battering, they've had a whole history and they would want to talk about the history and police would try to redirect them and say I don't want to know about that i want to know about what happened here tonight," Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Wiese said.

The Blueprint for Safety program relies on all levels of law enforcement to work together, from 911 operators and the first officers on the scene, to be able to identify the type and level of danger to an alleged victim.

Officials say police are already trained in identifying further issues, and have already begun asking "Blueprint for Safety" questions.

"At this point, all of our officers are already doing these risk questions so that is something that we had started a few months back to get that kind of rolling out," Addison said. "If someone were to have an incident at their home, they should expect to get those questions now."

Marquette County police have already been working with a domestic violence policy for over 25 years, and according to officials, this new system provides a step up in protection, helps prosecutors hold offenders accountable and protects victims.

"As a prosecuting attorney, you want to make sure the victims are safe," Wiese said. "We also want to hold offenders accountable, and we don't want an offender to be able to get away with manipulating the system so this will help us hold offenders accountable, it'll help us have better cases it will help us keep victims safer."

For more information on the program, and domestic abuse advocates, visit: