Clamping down on domestic violence

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Saturday, January 30, 2010
Earlier this month, Rock County dispatchers got a call from a home in Janesville.
The caller, who sounded out of breath, screamed an address.
When police arrived, they found a petite, 23-year-old mother of three with a cut on her eye, a chipped tooth and a swollen nose.
The father of her children had broken into her home in the middle of the night. She tried to run, but he dragged her up the stairs, banging her head along the way.
He took her cell phone, smashed it and kept her captive for hours.
She tried to shout for help through a heating vent to the downstairs neighbors, but he choked her nearly to death.
Eventually, she talked him into giving him her cell phone so she could see if it was broken.
She managed to dial "911" and scream her address.
Officers sought medical treatment for the woman, arrested the abuser and offered information about local services.

"Then we left," Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore said. "We feel that's a problem. We feel we can do better under those scenarios."

Starting Wednesday, members of a new Janesville Police Department team will start making follow-up visits to victims of domestic violence. The officers will be accompanied by a domestic violence advocate from the YWCA of Rock County.

Moore and representatives from the YWCA and the Rock County District Attorney's Office Domestic Violence Intervention Program on Friday morning announced the new team in a news conference.

The goals are to protect victims, reduce the number of violent incidents, provide services for victims, assure children are provided for and hold abusers accountable, Moore said.

Moore randomly chose the above story from recent domestic violence calls in the city. Janesville police respond to about two incidents per day and make a little more than one arrest per day, he said.

Two-thirds of the homicides in Janesville are related to domestic violence, Moore said. Looking back through the cases, police noticed most of the families had very little, if any, contact with police before the violence ended in death, Moore said.

That's why police want to take advantage of every opportunity to connect with a family in trouble, Moore said.

"We must do a very good job when we have these opportunities," Moore said.

The YWCA welcomes the new team, said Executive Director Kerri Parker. A visit from an officer and an advocate will have a positive incident for victims, she said.

"That will make the services feel more accessible," Parker said. "They (victims) will have met a human being."

Having a second chance to interview victims also could improve police reports, Moore said. That gives the county's domestic violence intervention team more leverage, said Director Kris Koeffler.

"Accountability is the motivating factor that brings people to change," Koeffler said. "Without that (incident) becoming public, without an arrest or someone seeking outside assistance, there's no motivation or possibly actual skills to help people make changes."

Last updated: 12:18 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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