High Risk Response Team awarded for domestic violence prevention efforts

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published October 28, 2019


FARMINGTON HILLS — Farmington Hills’ High Risk Response Team was recently given the “Commit to the Journey” award for its domestic violence prevention and awareness efforts.

The High Risk Response Team was chosen to receive the award at the Call to Action Coalition community breakfast Oct. 4 because the team’s mission and the work it has done since forming have “really helped the community as a whole,” Farmington Hills Assistant Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez said.

“Some of the recent ratings about Farmington Hills being rated one of the safer cities in Michigan, and even in the country, I know that one specific rating actually noted that the High Risk Response Team was one of the reasons we were chosen,” Rodriguez said. “This is the type of victim-focused, or victim-oriented, program that we feel is very important in our community.”

The High Risk Response Team was established in 2012. It currently includes several organizations and agencies: Farmington Hills and Farmington police, HAVEN of Oakland County, the Call to Action Coalition, Mai Family Services, Oakland University, Jewish Family Services, Farmington Public Schools, Beaumont Hospital, state and city prosecutors, and 47th District Court Judge Marla Parker.

Farmington Hills Sgt. and High Risk Response Team liaison Chad Double said the team was established as a multidisciplinary effort to talk about how the community can better respond to domestic violence and help victims of it.

“It’s definitely an honor to get this recognition,” said Double. “It brings back energy again to the team, but it also has brought in new members (and) other agencies that may have not been on the team. They see this awareness of the team, of domestic violence and what we’re trying to do. It definitely helps the team move forward.”

The High Risk Response Team not only provides prevention efforts in its home community, but members have spoken at conferences and to other safety departments and agencies statewide and nationally. Mitch Seeyle, the founder of the Call to Action Coalition, has seen firsthand how the High Risk Response Team has been a positive example of what other communities can do to prevent domestic violence in their cities.

“I was at a meeting this past spring, and one of the detectives from the University of Michigan Police Department was there to check it out, because they’ve been trying to get (a program like) this for a long time,” Seeyle said.

Seeyle said many police departments still need to change their attitudes about domestic violence; there’s still too much stigmatization, which can lead victims to not report an assault against them until it’s too late.

“The police have told us that sometimes it takes seven, eight or nine times before (victims) even come to the police and file a complaint,” he said. “Sometimes that’s just too late.”

According to a 2014 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, in Michigan “41.8% of women and 23% of men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner rape and/or intimate partner stalking in their lives.” These numbers are only based on reported cases; many others go unreported.

However, according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, in a single day, Michigan domestic violence programs provided services to 2,492 victims and survivors.

Domestic violence statistics may not be where agencies and safety departments would like them to be, but Seeyle and Double said small steps and a team effort are better than nothing at all.

“You gotta start taking baby steps with anything you do. If we look at a mountain as a huge problem, (and) we have to move this mountain, it seems impossible, but if we take one shovel at a time or one step at a time, we can move that mountain,” Seeyle said.

“You need the team. You need all aspects,” Double echoed. “You need to be able to sit in a room and discuss the best ways and best responses, and that’s what we’ve tried to do throughout the years. We’ve made many changes in the department and in the community through these talks with this team.”