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In 2009, OJA Violence Against Women Advisory Committee and the Governor’s Council on Domestic Violence Surrender Protocol Committee released a Firearms Protocol to be used in pilot projects. The protocol was developed by the OJA Violence Against Women Advisory Committee and the Governor’s Council on Domestic Violence Surrender Protocol Committee.
Firearms Surrender Protocols were established in four counties—Outagamie, Sauk, Winnebago, and Waushara—for pilot projects that will ensure firearms are surrendered in civil and criminal cases involving domestic violence, child abuse, and harassment, in accordance with existing Federal and State law.
Developing and implementing firearms surrender protocols are a national priority and are considered a “best practice” model. The protocol introduces well-established practices in courts from other states that follow the requirements of existing federal laws. These pilot projects provide an opportunity for the selected counties to implement the “best practice” model and evaluate the effectiveness of the Firearms Surrender Protocol prior to statewide distribution.
The protocol outlines effective collaboration of the Wisconsin court system, law enforcement agencies, and non-governmental, not-for-profit victim service agencies. The protocol provides due process and notice for respondents before firearms are seized, explains responsibilities to third parties who are willing to hold a respondent’s firearms, and establishes procedures for when law enforcement executes a warrant to seize firearms.
The protocol was developed with the input of Judges, District Attorneys, County Court Clerks, police officers, Sheriffs, Victim Services Providers, Human Services Agencies, Office of State Courts, Office of Justice Assistance, Department of Justice, and the Department of Corrections.
Federal and State mandatory surrender of firearms laws already exist; a comprehensive statewide surrender protocol makes implementing the practice easier for criminal justice professionals. In 2012, OJA revised the protocol based on evaluations from law enforcement, courts, and other criminal justice practitioners and published a new protocol that can be adopted by other Wisconsin counties.
In February of 2008, OJA, in collaboration with the Violence Against Women Advisory Committee, released Hidden in Plain Sight: A Baseline Survey of Human Trafficking in Wisconsin based on information provided by state law enforcement agencies and service providers.
Prompted by the survey results, which showed that there were potentially hundreds of victims of trafficking in our state, as well as the efforts of Human Trafficking Committee members and other stakeholders, Wisconsin policy makers have passed legislation outlawing human trafficking in Wisconsin (2007 WI Act 116).
Based on the survey report recommendations, the next crucial step in addressing human trafficking in our state is the creation of a statewide protocol that provides uniform guidelines for responding to cases of human trafficking. The Protocol and comprehensive resource manual was published in 2012 to provide guidelines for responding to the crime of human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a hidden crime, with traffickers often operating behind a façade of legal activity and where many victims do not self-identify. Some victims do not come forward out of fear of retribution, others because they do not see themselves as victims or do not relate to, or they disagree with, the term “trafficking.” There are some who do not believe they will be better off if they come forward, since they have either witnessed or experienced systems fail victims in the past.