Updated: Apr 14
Never Ever Dull—DC Safe
When Mita Felman retired from her career in public health administration and counseling, she didn't leave behind her compassion—nor her sense of adventure nor her willingness to take a risk. She brought all of that to her volunteer job with DC Safe, which takes her into areas of her city deemed unsafe and into circumstances no one wants to be a part of. As Mita says, the job has "never ever been dull"!
Responding to a domestic abuse call dressed in everyday, "normal" clothes, Mita is in contrast to her partner, a uniformed police officer. In such conflicts, experience has shown that having the volunteer along can be calming and reassuring because the police are often viewed in that community with trepidation. With the kind of listening and counseling skills Mita and the other volunteers have, victims will more readily open up in ways that they would not have to the police, especially not to a male officer if the victim is female. Consequently, Mita is able to assist the victim and also the officer, who can then better focus on the situation, the perpetrator, and the law enforcement needs, knowing the victim is in good hands.
A relatively new program of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department, DC Safe is growing as its effectiveness is proven again and again. Volunteers go through a lengthy application process (about six months) as they are thoroughly screened by the department, making sure that the volunteers are a good fit for the challenging encounters ahead. Then the training they receive prepares them further.
Mita has been especially pleased to work with the police, appreciating first-hand their politeness, skill, dedication, and professionalism in the face of conflict and danger. Initially wondering if she'd be viewed as a nuisance or as in the way by the officers, she has experienced only kindness, support, and admiration from them.
For Mita, who has had a wonderful life and career, seeing how others struggle day-to-day has given her a strong commitment to continue to use her skills and life experience in ways that make a difference and give back to others. That commitment also makes her life never dull!
If you have further interest in DC Safe, either to volunteer or to explore possibilities for setting up a domestic violence liaison program in your area, visit https://mpdc.dc.gov/page/domestic-violence-liaison or call 202-506-2901.