Local News

Victims of domestic violence will now receive Emergency Protection Orders (EPOs) more quickly in Jefferson County by using a new electronic process.

“Individuals seeking a protection order previously faced an inefficient and often a lengthy process that relied on paper copies and (officials) had to walk the floors to find a judge and for approval,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.

EPOs provide victims of domestic violence with temporary protection from alleged abusers while they find more permanent solutions. The new electronic process makes communication between agencies that respond to domestic violence faster and more efficient, said Circuit Court Clerk David Nicholson.

“Under the old system it was not unusual for it to take several hours to get an EPO authorized and to the sheriff’s office. Now with this new technology the communication and the EPO can be electronically authorized and electronically available to the sheriff’s office in a matter of a few minutes,” said Nicholson.

The electronic EPO is the first of its kind in the country, said Chief Judge of Family Court Stephen George.

The time from a victim’s statement, to a judge’s approval, to the sheriff’s department was averaged at 30 minutes last week, said George.

Even though electronic EPOs don’t solve every problem, the time the new system saves in domestic violence situations is crucial, said Marta Maria Miranda, president of the Center for Women and Families.

“This is a deterrent. EPOs work 80 percent of the time. Nothing works 100 percent of the time. If someone wants to kill you they’re going to. But they do work 80 percent of the time. They’re crucial,” said Miranda.

Electronic EPOs have been developed for state-wide access, but counties will implement the program only if they can support it. Christian County is expected to implement the program shortly.

The county has issued 400 electronic EPOs since the new system started in August.

The program was funded with $170,000 of federal stimulus funds.