Saratoga Springs police have embedded advocate to help reduce domestic violence

December 05, 2018 07:01 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - She isn't a cop, but most days you'll find Christie Keegan inside the Saratoga Springs Police station, talking to officers, going over reports, or calling crime victims.

Keegan is a long-time advocate for Wellspring, the non-profit that helps victims of relationship violence or sexual assault.


Until she started working out of the police station, Wellspring only found out about victims in need of assistance through its confidential hotline or an alert from a neighbor.

However, with Keegan embedded with the police department, she gets alerted to domestic violence calls right away, even when there's no arrest.

"This is an incredible conduit for being able to reach people that we might not otherwise reach," said Keegan.

Armed with information, Keegan then reaches out to victims, either by phone or in person, sometimes accompanied by officers, and lets them know what they can expect from the criminal justice system -- and what services Wellspring can provide.

"People say, 'Really, thank you for calling,' or, 'Wow, I didn't know police did that,'" Keegan said. "This allows the police to be much less scary."

Police Chief Greg Veitch calls having an advocate in the police station invaluable.

"To have another set of eyes, someone from the advocacy side taking a look at what we're doing and interacting with the police on a routine basis, even when there's no arrest, that's been very beneficial to us."

Wellspring Executive Director Maggie Fronk said having an advocate apprised by police right away helps her organization help more people.

"We wouldn't be alerted unless someone came to us and said I called the police and the police showed up last night, so we did not have this link to doing immediate follow-up after police have responded."

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call Wellspring's confidential hotline at (518) 584-8188.


Mark Mulholland

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