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Pilot Program Could Help Save Domestic Violence Victims' Lives

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DURHAM, N.C. — The Durham County Sheriff's Office is testing a new program to help combat domestic violence.

It's a software program called

VINE Protective Order (VPO)

. VINE stands for "victim information and notification every day."

Victims register for the notification system after filling out protective orders. When an officer serves an order, the victim is notified -- almost in real time -- by the automated system.

"The minute he or she gets that phone call, -- it's a heads up that this is a critical time," said Cpl. Kim Lane with the Durham County Sheriff's Office. "(Victims might say), 'I may need to go somewhere else, be on my toes, have a phone nearby.'"

Jessica Frits, who works with victims at Durham's Crisis Response Center, said the automated system can literally save lives.

"It really is the most violent time (after a protective order is served), because usually, the abuser will retaliate at that time," Frits said.

In North Carolina this year, 53 people have been killed as a result of domestic violence, according to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In Durham County, judges hear nearly 250 domestic violence cases every week.

"(The victims) are racking their brains trying to figure out, 'How can I protect myself, protect my children?'" Frits said.

Advocates believe the pilot program is that one extra step that can keep victims safe.

Only two other North Carolina counties, Surrey and Pitt, are using it.


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