Second Responders, a new program to help victims of domestic violence, is being piloted in Dublin.

Second Responders, a new program to help victims of domestic violence, is being piloted in Dublin.

The Dublin Police Department is partnering with Choices, a Columbus-based organization, to help victims in what organizers believe is a more immediate way than what has been experienced in the past.

"When you're a victim of domestic violence the time you are in a lot of need is at the moment you feel victimized and that's when we get involved," police Chief Mike Epperson said. "When we show up our job is to make sure everyone is safe then figure out what happened. A lot of times the victim needs another resource to help them make decisions and help them through the court process. The second responder can be contacted immediately. In the past the victims may have to wait a day or two till they can get a hold of someone. The more immediate you can get help the better."

The pilot program is paid for and operated by Choices, which will be working with Dublin and Bexley.

The cities were selected because of the low number of domestic violence calls each receives. That way, Choices can better evaluate the program's effect, said Gail Heller, executive director.

Since January 2006, Dublin police have received 66 calls for a domestic violence incident, 125 calls for a domestic violence assault and 31 calls for domestic violence menacing, Epperson said.

The pilot program will provide a Choices staff member to visit the scene of a domestic violence call after police have secured the site, Heller said.

"(The police) would offer the person that was victimized the choice to meet with our staff person -- the second responder -- who would come on site, wherever the victim would be, for crisis intervention," Heller said.

The second responder links the person with community resources, helps them develop a safety plan for the future and provides general support, Heller said.

"Our goal in a domestic violence case is to have a lot of tools available for the victim," Epperson said. "Choices has always been a good tool for us to have. This program facilitates their involvement a little quicker."

Currently, police called to a domestic crime provide information about resources in the community. But officers typically don't have time to provide detailed information about those resources, Heller said.

"Individuals are almost frozen with the amount of information provided and don't know what steps to take, and our person will help make that road easier for them to look at what options they have open," Heller said. "The safety planning is critical and it allows law enforcement to get back on the road more quickly."

The pilot program is being funded with a grant from the Limited Brands Foundation, Heller said.

The program has yet to be used in Dublin, Epperson said, but the department will be monitoring its usefulness, particularly during the first few occurrences. Choices' hotline is (614) 224-4663.

ThisWeek Staff Writer Bonnie Butcher contributed to this story.