Coping with domestic violence | News
In 2021, the Danville Police Department recorded 3,225 domestic disturbance calls and over 700 domestic violence reports among its 38,362 calls for service.
According to Danville Police Department crime data from 2020 to 2021, Danville had 738 home battery incidents in 2021, compared to 654 in 2020.
Domestic disturbances and incidents of domestic violence continue to be high in the city year after year, including repeat calls from the same households. Police Chief Chris Yates wants to tackle the problem head-on with a new domestic violence officer within the police department.
The officer is part of a long-term plan, an initiative against domestic violence, Yates said.
Six new police officers are being hired as part of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant the department received. This will allow veteran officers to be assigned to new roles.
According to Yates’ plan, with six new officers, the additional manpower will:
- A domestic violence officer who would specialize in the dynamics of domestic violence in the community. The officer would conduct follow-up investigations when they were beyond the scope of the regular response officer and prepare the file for the Deputy Patrol Leader’s review. The officer would also focus on resources for victims as well as community education and family violence prevention. The position would also serve as a communication channel for victims, the police department and community resource organizations.
- A four-officer special street crime unit assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division. The primary focus would be to process, investigate and prepare for prosecution of cases of gun violence as well as related offenses to include illegal narcotics, complementing and working in conjunction with the Vermilion Metropolitan Enforcement Group (VMEG) . The unit would also be assigned cases requiring additional investigative resources in the field, such as crimes involving gangs, prostitution, and theft. The efforts of the Street Crimes Unit would utilize and complement the resources, both physical and informational, of the Patrol and Investigative Divisions, the Problem Based Policing (POP) Unit, the Community Housing (CHU), Federal Task Force officers (US Marshals and ATF), as well as other partner agencies. Yates said the unit will work on issues that take up more investigative time and resources.
- A Community Liaison Officer who would be assigned to the Patrol Division and would work at the discretion and under the direction of the Deputy Chief. The scope of duties would include providing feedback and ongoing communication with the public regarding quality of life issues ranging from nuisance violations to chronic or ongoing criminal activity in the neighborhood. This officer would also help with community education and communicate challenges reported by the community and how the department will alleviate them. This would include a response, individually or in concert, from patrol officers, POP, CHU or the Special Crimes Unit. Yates said there may be complaints in parts of the city about drug activity, vagrancy and juvenile issues. The ministry will formulate a plan on what needs to be done and the plan will be modified until the results are seen. “(It’s) another way to get community feedback, as well as information,” Yates said of working with crime watch groups, neighborhood associations and others.
Due to difficulties in opening training slots, it could take up to 12 to 18 months to hire, train and place officers in positions before the unit and officers are fully operational, according to Yates.
Yates said, for example, that he hopes the special street crimes unit will be fully operational by February 2023.
He said the domestic violence officer was part of the department’s Domestic Violence Initiative.
“We have to make sure every aspect of the domestic violence report and case is done right,” he said.
This ranges from interviewing the victim and any additional witnesses to questioning the suspect.
The case is going through a series of checks, Yates said.
He said they want to make sure what can be done at the patrol level is completed before the Criminal Investigations Division for a follow up. A detective is assigned and there is another checklist to go through.
Someone might see a case and wonder why no one has been charged. The department wants to ensure that all the criteria are met and avoid anything that could compromise the solidity of a file.
“Also in this process, we are reaching out in a much faster way, on a daily basis, to support agencies for the victim,” Yates said.
He said they want to make sure victims understand their rights and the resources available after they come out of an emotional state immediately following an incident.
Social service agencies are important, he added, for what children learn. Violence learned in the home can correspond to violence on the street, he says of the close connection.
“It’s not a magic bullet,” Yates said.
He added that there are also programs that offenders can participate in.
If a case hasn’t reached violence, but someone is in an unhealthy relationship and it is moving towards violence, both parties can be asked to help before it becomes a problem, he said. he adds.
Executive Director of the Survivor Resource Centre, Marcie Sheridan, said: “The prevention work we do involves all types of violence prevention – sexual abuse, domestic violence, bullying, physical fighting. So it fits in well with the domestic violence initiative. The chief certainly understands the importance of having programs for young people so that we can prevent violence and not just deal with its consequences.
“We are so very happy to be a part of this initiative,” she added, supporting the work of the police department and also working with Crosspoint Human Services, the Vermilion County Child Advocacy Center and other agencies.