Getting Started

A Wealth of Knowledge

With approximately 175 domestic violence fatality review teams currently in operation, those wishing to form a team have a wealth of experience from which to draw upon. The steps below are a compilation of experiential knowledge, some of which was published in Alana Bowman’s article “Establishing Domestic Violence Death Review Teams.” (Bowman, Alana. 1997. “Establishing Domestic Violence Review Teams.” Domestic Violence Report, August/September 1997, pp. 83, 93-94.)

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Steps to Establishing a Review Team

  • If applicable, review your state statute or executive order that authorizes team formation to ensure the team operates according to the law.
  • Identify stakeholders to participate on the team.
  • Decide how the team will house documents, send out meeting notices, and generate reports.
  • Develop confidentiality agreements for both individuals and agencies. Samples are available on the“Documents” tab, and the “Review Teams” tab allows access to all team documents currently on file.
  • Define the team’s goals, purposes, and philosophies of the team.
  • Develop protocols for what the team will review, including the scope and types of cases.
    • Will the team review only cases involving adults, closed cases, murder-suicides, intimate partner homicides, etc? (Note: Some statutes and executive orders prohibit review of open cases.)
    • Approximately how many cases does the team plan to review in a year? Does the team plan to review many cases for aggregate information and trends or conduct one or more in-depth reviews?
    • How will the team identify relevant cases, and what will the selection criteria include?
  • Select the first case(s) to review.
  • Establish a meeting schedule that allows for maximum participation.
    • Will the team meet monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, biannually, or annually?
    • How long will the meetings generally last?
  • Team members can gather documents and information related to their own agency’s involvement in the case and, upon reconvening as a team, provide the material for synthesis into the overall review upon reconvening.
  • Conduct the review.
    • What was the timeline of events leading up to the tragedy?
    • What were possible red flags or risk markers in the relationship?
    • Which agencies and community entities were involved?
    • What was the degree of coordination and communication among the agencies and community entities?
    • Is there anything that could have been done differently to improve the systemic and/or community response to the victim and/or the perpetrator?
  • Summarize the review into a workable document for either an immediate or later report.
  • Determine how and to whom the findings will be disseminated. (Note: Some statutes and executive orders establish minimum standards for dissemination of information.)

Many teams find their procedures and protocols evolve over time. This list is a starting point for nascent teams to clarify the team’s role and function. For additional information, please see the “FAQs” section. Training tools for practice reviews are available through NDVFRI.