The city of Bangor is planning to overhaul its approach to training about domestic violence so that employees can better recognize the signs, and provide help and support to those affected by it.
At a City Council workshop April 23, Bangor Human Resources Officer Richard Cromwell told councilors training for new employees will soon include a separate policy that supports those affected by domestic violence, and also teaches how to respond if a coworker is in a violent relationship.
Councilors decided to reinvigorate city policies last summer, with the help of Casey Faulkingham of Bangor-based Partners for Peace. However, recent events with Waterfront Concerts brought to light the need to expedite these changes, Faulkingham said.
“I think it’s the least we can do. Obviously it will never be enough, but having something in place going forward is vital,” Councilor Gibran Graham said.
Waterfront Concerts owner and Bangor contract holder Alex Gray pleaded guilty to domestic violence assault last October, a month after the city signed a 10-year contract with his company. Gray also holds a contract with the city of Portland, whose officials were, until recently, negotiating a separate contract renewal with the prominent concert promoter.
But earlier this month, Gray’s ex-girlfriend, Erica Cole, who brought the charge against him after she said he choked her and repeatedly hit her head against the floor last winter, implored Portland officials to stop doing business with Gray. Last week, the Portland city council unanimously made that decision.
Cromwell and Faulkingham, Partner for Peace’s community response team leader, are working together to draft the changes, which will become part of the training for city employees and city councilors.
This will hopefully represent the first phase of a long-term partnership that includes setting standards not only for city employees, but anyone who contracts with the city, Faulkingham said.
The goal is to ensure employees are equipped to properly address a victims’ needs, should the situation arise, Cromwell said. Being able to respond to any situation is key, like, “what do you do when someone comes to you with an issue and you need to help them?” he said.
“We need to create a comfort zone for the employee in the workplace … and then, conversely, [provide] some training for them and for their supervisors, as well,” said Cromwell.
Cromwell told councilors Monday night that the current domestic violence training for supervisors and employees is inadequate.
“It’s something we really aren’t prepared for right now, and it’s something we need to prepare for soon,” he said.
Councilors were in favor of the changes. Implementing the new standards will not not require a council vote, but the new changes will likely be reviewed by the council beforehand.
“We believe that by sending messages of fairness and equality, [and] by supporting survivors and [holding] offenders accountable, we’re doing our part to end domestic violence in our communities.”
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