Domestic Violence cases make up about a third of the calls Rockford Police officers respond to. Many of these victims turn to the court system for help.
The county's Domestic Violence Coordinated is a Department of Justice "Mentor Court" It's one of just six in the nation. With the title comes the responsibility to teach other court systems the best practices.
"It's been a really exciting opportunity," says Domestic Violence Court Judge Rosemary Collins. "People from all over the country, including Alaska, that came here to study how our system works and how they can use some of the methods we use in their systems where they live."
Collins says Winnebago County was first named a Mentor Court in 2014. The designation also comes with federal funding. Collins estimates those dollars are close to $5 million over the years. Those dollars go to new programs and staff. An example of this is the addition of the after hours order of protection program.
"I actually have granted an emergency order of protection while I was attending my son's baseball game," says Collins. "It's exciting because we know safety doesn't wait until nine to five at the courthouse. If someone is in an emergency situation and needs help, we can provide that."
Remedies Renewing Lives and the Rockford Police Department work alongside the court system to make these orders happen. Also providing legal advocates, which it says help keep victims from returning to their abuser.
"An average victim of domestic violence will try to leave seven or eight times before they finally get the courage to file an order of protection," says Remedies Renewing Lives Vice President of Marketing and Fund Development Kathy Branning. "A legal advocate is there to not only help them navigate the legal system but also provide emotional support throughout the whole process."
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, call Remedies 24 hour hotline at 815-962-6102. If you're interested in a legal advocate call 815-516-2440.