CPO cards critical tool for victims

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A new card that is now available to anyone who has filed a civil protection order is just one more tool police and courts are using to help victims stay safe.

Mahoning County Domestic Relations Judge Beth Smith unveiled the new civil protection order (CPO) card. About the size of a credit card, the plastic document contains all the information police need when a civil protection order becomes part of a police call, including a description of the person ordered to stay away.

Typically, victims should carry their court papers with them at all times when they have civil protection orders filed, but sometimes that is not practical. Now, the handy cards can be slipped into a pocket or wallet and are easily accessible.

“It does not replace a safety plan. Victims still need a safety plan, but it can be part of a safety plan,” said Smith. “Instead of having those five-page documents, you can get that CPO card in your pocket.”

In January and February 60 petitions for protection orders have been filed in Mahoning County. Judge Smith said her court deals with about 800 petitions every year, and the number keeps growing.

“From 1997 there were only 581.They’ve risen to 813. I think when it hit 800 it was like I’ve got to do something to help these victims,” said Smith.

The cards will be given to victims of domestic violence with civil protection orders of one year or more. The average is five years.

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