Oceanport establishes new crisis team

Domestic Violence Crisis Intervention team to benefit community


Staff Writer

One domestic violence report is one too many, according to Detective Sgt. Danny Barcus.

That is why the borough law enforcement official said the new Domestic Violence Crisis Intervention team in Oceanport is definitely needed.

“The team is a benefit to every community,” Barcus said. “Some communities do not have as many [domestic violence crimes] reported, but there is domestic violence in every community.”

On Oct. 7, the Borough Council adopted a resolution establishing a Domestic Violence Intervention team.

The new Oceanport team will become part of a “triborough team” in conjunction with Eatontown and West Long Branch. That means there will be one team to respond to reports of domestic violence incidents in the three towns, according to Joelle Calafato, crisis intervention team coordinator with 180, Turning Lives Around, in Hazlet.

Each county has a domestic violence agency and 180, Turning Lives Around is the lead agency for Monmouth County. 180 is mandated by the state to work with municipalities to recruit teams and find volunteers, according to Calafato, who said the program is state funded.

Teams are comprised of volunteers from the three communities. Each town is required to have a crisis intervention liaison officer from the police department on the regional team. 180 is responsible for training and supervising the advocates.

The crisis intervention liaison officer for Oceanport is Barcus, for Eatontown the officer is Detective Larry Tyler and the West Long Branch officer is James Gomez.

“Domestic violence cases are not as well received by police officers because officers have to handle the batterer and the victim,” Barcus said. “It is not enough time for the victims.”

The purpose of the Domestic Violence Crisis Intervention team is to provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence. It will establish a community and police partnership of trained individuals who will respond to domestic abuse incidents and advise victims of services available to them, as stated in the resolution.

“Every town has problems with domestic violence,” Oceanport Mayor Maria Gatta said. “It’s a concern in all municipalities. I think it is better to be proactive than reactive.”

“It [the team] will show victims that there is a resource and they do not have to continue to be battered,” Barcus said.

Oceanport will have about 12 to 15 volunteers on the team after the initial 40-hour mandated training procedure is completed, according to Calafato, who said the training requires the volunteers to learn about domestic violence and how to be advocates.

“It is a complex training course and volunteers give up a lot of their time for this [the teams],” Calafato said.

Periodic training classes, at least three a year, will be held to update skills and to train new volunteers who join the team.

The first training class in Oceanport will be completed on Saturday, according to Barcus who said, the team is expected to be in place by year end.

The volunteers on the triborough team, which is called a regional team because the team covers more than one town, will be required to pick their own leader and set their own schedules,” Barcus explained.

He said when a report of domestic violence is received, volunteers will be notified by the police department and meet with the victims in a private location at the police department.

“There is a need for this in every community,” Barcus said. “It will work only depending on how people use it. If people come in and say there isn’t a problem, the [team] will change nothing.”

Until now, when victims of domestic violence came into the department they were referred to 180, Barcus said.

“Now we have advocates to help,” he said. “We used to have to put in extra time and now [the team] allows more time [for the police department to handle the batterer].”

“The borough has determined that creating a domestic violence intervention team advances the general welfare of the community and promotes public policy in the prevention of domestic violence,” according to the resolution.

Monmouth County has 53 municipalities and Calafato said the triborough team will be the 23rd intervention team created by 180.

“It’s a work in progress,” she said. “We only do two trainings in a year.”