In the last five years there have been 120 homicides attributed to domestic violence in Massachusetts.
“That is 24 a year, 24 too many,” said Middlesex County District Attorney Gerry Leone.
Monday morning, Leone joined Lowell Police Superintendent Ken Lavallee, City Manager Bernie Lynch and Alternative House Executive Director Kathy Kelley in rolling out GLEAN (Greater Lowell Evaluation and Advisory Network), a community-response task force aimed at combating domestic violence through intervention, education and training.
Modeled after a similar program in Newburyport, the team, made up of representatives from 23 law enforcement, educational, social service and health organizations ranging from the DA’s Office and Lowell Police to Lowell General Hospital, UMass Lowell, and Community Teamwork, will meet monthly bringing their expertise on the different factors and facets of the domestic violence problem together in discussing high risk cases (70 of which have already been identified).
“Domestic violence extends beyond the four walls of a home, but it is difficult to penetrate those walls. It takes a community; it takes eyes and ears,” Leone said. “If you can predict it, you can prevent it.”
Six other High Risk Assessment and Rapid Response Teams have also been established in Ayer, Cambridge, Concord, Framingham, Somerville and Stoneham.
The goal is prevention through intervention, education, and training; to both punish and deter those who abuse or consider abusing a domestic partner or dependent and to empower rather than intimidate victims as they navigate through the criminal justice system.
The abusers need to be stripped of the power and control on which they thrive.
Lavallee said his department approached the DA’s office a couple of months ago as data began showing a significant increase in aggravated assault due to domestic violence.
He added as the result of the implementation of GLEAN, every member of the Lowell Police Department will undergo four hours of training in high risk factors, lethality assessment and the high-risk team model.
“It’s going to save lives,” said Lavallee.
“We will work to contain the perpetrators and detain the perpetrators while keeping the victims safe, more safe than ever before,” said Kelley, who was instrumental in the formation of the City Manager’s Domestic Violence Task Force in the 1990’s under City Manager Brian Martin.
The task force remains active today under the stewardship of City Manager Bernie Lynch, who said the formation of GLEAN is another in a string of Lowell partnerships aimed at tackling complex issues.
“We need to do more and this GLEAN effort is one more step in making that happen,” he said. “Together we can make a difference.”
Among the more than 50 in attendance at the GLEAN kick-off at the Boott Mill were: Mayor Patrick Murphy, City Councilor Vesna Nuon, School Committee member Robert Gignac, Greater Lowell Technical High School Superintendent Mary Jo Santoro, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, and Massachusetts Department of Correction Commissioner Luis Spencer.