Wallet cards help police verify, enforce protection of domestic violence victims
By Peter H. Milliken
Wallet-size cards summarizing civil-protection orders provide police with a practical way to verify and enforce those orders, Mahoning County’s domestic relations court judge said.
“It’s a convenient method for domestic-violence victims to provide evidence that they have a protection order,” said Judge Beth A. Smith of that court, who had a news conference Tuesday to announce the launch of the card-issuance program, which is the first of its kind in Ohio.
The cards, which can be carried by a victim at all times, contain information from the protection order, including the name and identifying characteristics of the person ordered to stay away, names of protected people, and dates of issuance and expiration. There is no fee for the CPO or the card issued by that court.
The card, which resembles a credit card or driver’s license, is more durable and convenient to carry than the 81/2-by-11-inch, five-page court order itself, the judge said. The yellow-bordered cards are being issued to people with protection orders lasting at least one year, she added.
“It’s a good example of where government has to help the people that really can’t help themselves,” Tony Vivo, clerk of courts, said of the card issuance. “She’s taking a proactive approach to make things a lot easier for these victims of domestic violence,” he said of Judge Smith.
Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti said the card gives victims a “sense of security that they always have something in their wallets that they could show the police.”
Eileen Larson, judicial advocate with the Sojourner House domestic-violence shelter, said Judge Smith’s wallet-card issuance for this purpose is the first in Ohio, but such cards are being issued in Montana, Idaho and Indiana.
“It’s a more-convenient tool for the victim to be able to carry” than a multipage, full-size paper order, Sheriff Jerry Greene said of the laminated plastic card. “It’s easily accessible. It has all the information law enforcement needs to know.”
The domestic-relations court can grant a CPO if the purported aggressor is a spouse, a former spouse, a household member or a blood-relative who has lived with the victim at any time, or a natural parent of the victim’s child. That court received 815 CPO requests last year, compared with 581 in 1997, the year Judge Smith took office.
The initial request for a protection order is made before a judge or magistrate with only the victim present, with the temporary order being issued if the judge or magistrate is convinced there’s an imminent danger of violence.