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MARQUETTE COUNTY– When a person becomes a victim of domestic violence, advocates say it can be a very overwhelming time for them. Agencies like the Women’s Center and Harbor House are on hand to help those victims in their time of need.

“Have a shelter that people can stay in,” said Heather Addison, Blueprint for Safety Advocate. “We can offer legal advocacy. General counseling for folks that may have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault.”

Addison was hired two years ago specifically for the Blueprint for Safety Program.

“Process that connects systems throughout Marquette County that respond to domestic violence crimes,” said Addison.

The blueprint, with new domestic violence policies was officially launched in December.

“When a police officer responds to a domestic violence crime they call the Women’s Center from the scene of the crime if it’s possible or is safe or soon after as they can and they provide us with the victim’s name and phone number and any other information they have time for,” said Addison.

Another way the police and court systems work with agencies is providing easily accessible bond information.

“If someone has been arrested we can call the victim after they’ve been arraigned,” said Addison.

Addison says that the first two months of the new launch was compared to January and February of last year, and found that the number of incidents that were reported to them nearly doubled.

“The goal is that we can establish a systemic process and response to domestic violence,” said Matt Wiese, Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney.

Wiese has been working with domestic violence cases for about 30 years. He helped put together the over $400,000 grant to start the program. 

“We are getting better cases that I think we are being more diligent in communicating with victims, survivors of domestic violence,” said Wiese. “That we link them up with advocates early and often in the process.”

Marquette County was the first in the state to use Blueprint for Safety, though Midland County has also adopted the program.

There is discussion happening with other prosecutors and Lansing about maybe seeing if we can taking the domestic violence Blueprint for Safety expand it beyond,” said Wiese. “See if we can make it a statewide approach.”

A request for funding has been sent to the Department of Justice for an additional three years to the program.