Domestic violence program helps prosecute offenders
Five police officers on the domestic violence intervention team have spoken with 342 victims since the program began in February, Sgt. Anne Brophy said. They follow up with victims within three days of the initial report.
Contacting victims a second time has helped officers find evidence such as bruising or other injuries that weren't visible before, she said.
Victims also have provided officers with more information on follow-up visits because the emotions and chaos of the initial violence have subsided, Brophy said. Often, the new details help investigations.
Rock County District Attorney David O'Leary said the program has helped prosecute domestic violence offenders.
"One of the real positives I see in the new program is that the follow up helps get that information to solidify our case," O'Leary said. "Unfortunately, domestic violence is one of the major components in our system. We have a lot of domestic violence cases that come in."
When officers meet with victims, they make sure victims are aware of services offered by the YWCA of Rock County, Mercy Hospital or the Rock County District Attorney's Office Victim/Witness Assistance Program, Brophy said. They also ask victims if they have a safety plan in case another incident occurs.
Officers then interview the victims a second time and photograph or document any new evidence not previously present, Brophy said.
Sometimes, victims tell officers the perpetrator already has intimidated them or violated the 72-hour restraining order put in place after the initial arrest, she said. Victims might not have reported those issues without the second visit.
Chief Dave Moore said the program is meeting its goal of protecting victims, reducing the number of domestic crimes, providing services and helping families. He said two-thirds of the homicides in Janesville are related to domestic violence.
"I think it's one of the best things we have going on at the Janesville Police Department," Moore said. "It fits fairly nicely into the problem-solving focus."
The program also has helped increase communication among agencies working with domestic violence victims, Brophy said.