Domestic violence project launched locally

Wiese: Blueprint for Safety a new approach


MARQUETTE — Local officials have announced what they term a new approach to domestic violence cases in Marquette County.

“The Marquette County Blueprint for Safety is the result of a collaborative effort between the Marquette County criminal justice system and local domestic violence victim services,” said Matt Wiese, Marquette County prosecutor, in a news release. “The Blueprint looks at domestic violence — specifically intimate partner violence — and the criminal justice response to that violence through a lens focusing on victim safety and offender accountability.”

Wiese said the initiative is the result of cooperation between his office and the Women’s Center of Marquette. In addition, the project was made possible by a grant from the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, Arrest Grant Program.

The grant provided funding for Diane Ziegner, Blueprint coordinator, and Women’s Center employee Heather Addison, who serves in the role of Blueprint advocate for victims of domestic violence.

“Combatting the dangerous and manipulative behavior of domestic violence offenders requires a consistent and strong response facilitated by effective communication across agencies,” Ziegner said. “Marquette County is fortunate to have criminal justice practitioners that are dedicated to the goal of enforcing accountability and enhancing safety.”

Addison explained the process used to collect information.

“We conducted focus groups with survivors of domestic violence and listened to their experiences when they interacted with the criminal justice system,” she said. “We learned firsthand, from the experiences of victims, that there were gaps in the system that reduced victim safety. Our new policies are intended to enhance victim safety and hold domestic violence offenders accountable.”

Wiese noted the Marquette County Blueprint for Safety is a model recognized by the Department of Justice that was first implemented in St. Paul and Duluth, Minnesota, New Orleans and Memphis.

“The Blueprint for Safety is based upon research and sound principles of evaluating a community’s systems response to domestic violence,” he said. “To my knowledge, Marquette County is the first rural, and only county-wide jurisdiction in the nation, to implement the Blueprint for Safety.”

A formal kickoff event will take place from 3-5 p.m. Dec. 13 in the Ontario Room of the University Center on the campus of Northern Michigan University.