For Massachusetts residents, or anyone who lives on the North Shore, this article is nice to see. Congratulations! Massachusetts has some spectacular programs with very strong coordinated community responses.
By Paul Leighton Staff writer The Salem News Tue Jun 07, 2011, 05:00 AM EDT
BEVERLY — Citing her own experience as a victim in her first marriage, Diane Patrick last night came to Beverly to honor the Police Department for its work against domestic violence.
Patrick, the wife of Gov. Deval Patrick, said police deserved praise for the award they won last year from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
“I didn’t want to be anywhere else when this recognition was given to you,” Patrick said in an appearance at a City Council meeting at City Hall.
The Beverly Police Department’s domestic violence unit was one of only six in the United States and Canada to win a victim services award from the IACP in 2010.
When City Councilor Wes Slate mentioned the award to Patrick at an event in Lynn last year, “Her first response was, ‘I’d love to be there,’” Slate said.
Patrick was originally scheduled to come to Beverly in December, but had to turn back due to an intense snowstorm. Mayor Bill Scanlon said her appearance last night marked the first time a Massachusetts first lady had come to Beverly in his 16 years as mayor.
“It’s a very special night for us here in Beverly,” Scanlon said.
Patrick deflected all of the praise toward the police and their fight against domestic violence. Since it was established in 2002, the department’s domestic violence unit has assisted 7,779 victims with such services as counseling, emergency shelter, legal advice, education and a 24-hour hotline. The department has also formed a sexual assault response team, a warrant apprehension team that looks for people with domestic violence warrants, and a coordinated community response program.
The unit consists of supervisor Sgt. Phil McCarthy and domestic violence advocates Tina Nieves and Katie Nagy. But McCarthy said the work also includes police officers on the street and HAWC, the Salem-based agency that partners with the unit. He called Nieves and Nagy “the heart and soul” of the unit.
In her remarks, Patrick said she lived in an abusive first marriage for seven years but hid the problem from her parents, friends and colleagues.
“I was a successful lawyer,” she said. “I had the financial means to leave and survive on my own if I so chose.”
But like many victims, she said, she was threatened with harm if she spoke out. “The longer it went on, the more unable I was to speak about it.”
That’s why it’s important for police departments and communities to respond to domestic violence like Beverly has, Patrick said. She called Beverly’s program and its collaboration with HAWC “a model in the commonwealth and in the country for domestic violence outreach.”
“The best defense against domestic violence is knowledge,” she said. “Knowing she is not at fault, that she is not alone, that she has the power to end the abuse. Knowing that law enforcement is not a hurdle to overcome but a resource to come to.”
After thanking her hosts one last time, Patrick said, “I want you to know I’m your partner, and I want you to call me whenever you need me.”