J.B. Van Hollen: Summit to focus on domestic violence, heroin abuse in state

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J.B. Van Hollen
Sunday, June 15, 2014

Domestic violence kills many Wisconsin residents. A recent report from End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin indicates that a person is killed in a domestic violence-related incident on average once a week. For thousands of other victims, violence or the threat of violence is an everyday reality.

Wisconsin’s law enforcement officers respond to tens of thousands of domestic violence calls each year. Statistics from 2012 show that 28,729 domestic abuse incidents were reported to law enforcement and referred to prosecutors during the reporting period, representing a slight increase from 2011. As part of my annual Summit on Public Safety, June 17-19 in Wisconsin Dells, law enforcement will learn about the link between domestic violence and stalking as it relates to lethality, and we’ll explore Maryland’s Lethality Assessment Program. That program is an evidence-based tool designed to help first-responders identify victims of domestic violence who are at the greatest risks of being killed and encourage them to seek domestic violence services.

The Department of Justice’s violence against women resource prosecutor also will lead a panel discussion with six Wisconsin police agencies, all of which have implemented innovative policing strategies in their communities to battle domestic violence. Through the discussion, law enforcement attendees will walk away with new tools for their own communities.

Heroin use also continues to impact much of Wisconsin, resulting in the loss of too many lives. Through recent legislation, the department’s heroin prevention public awareness campaign “The Fly Effect,” and public engagement in the issue, we’ve been able to better inform one another. But there’s still plenty of work to do in battling heroin’s deadly grasp, fueled largely, research shows, by the abuse of prescription drugs.

Results from a recent study, released online in JAMA Psychiatry, show “75 percent of those who began their opioid abuse in the 2000s reported that their first regular opioid was a prescription drug.” Nearly every respondent, according to the study, indicated they used heroin instead of prescription drugs not only for the “high” from heroin but because prescription drugs were more expensive and more difficult to get. This is further evidence that the link between heroin abuse and the prescription drugs we keep in our household medicine cabinets is undeniable.

At this year’s summit, our presenters will share how local law enforcement can take the lead in prevention efforts by bringing together multiple disciplines and community stakeholders to reduce abuse and, in turn, reduce drug-related crimes in their neighborhoods and save lives. We’ll also explore effective investigative techniques when responding to an overdose death to ensure that those who deliver drugs that kill are held accountable.

Finally, the director of training and development for the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children will share strategies for establishing community-based partnerships across disciplines to respond to the needs of a child exposed to drug abuse or domestic violence in the home.

By sharing tools and information, law enforcement in your community will be better equipped not only to respond to crises but lead efforts to prevent them.

J.B. Van Hollen is Wisconsin attorney general; phone 608-266-1221; address Room 114 East, state Capitol, Madison, WI 53702.


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