Domestic violence often unheard

Commitment to ending domestic violence runs deep at the Durango Police Department.

Domestic violence means an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the offender is or has been involved in an intimate relationship. It includes any other crime against a person or property, including an animal, when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation or revenge.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

1 in every 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.

An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.

85 percent of domestic violence victims are women.

Historically, females have been victimized most often by someone they knew.

Females 20 to 24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate-partner violence.

Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.

An arrest is mandatory for domestic-violence crimes, and offenders are unable to post bond until they go before a judge. Protection orders are put in place by the judge to protect victims by restraining the offender from contacting them.

All law-enforcement agencies in the 6th Judicial District investigate and handle domestic-violence calls through a unified process as outlined in the district’s Law Enforcement Domestic Violence Policy. This includes La Plata, Archuleta and San Juan counties.

The DPD has a collaborative working relationship with agencies that assist volunteers and survivors of domestic violence.

Alternative Horizons is a nonprofit organization that provides free services to all victims of domestic violence. DPD refers all victims of domestic-violence crimes we investigate to Alternative Horizons.

The DPD also works closely with Southwest Safehouse, which provides housing and support to women and children. In addition, we work with the District Attorney’s Office to enforce the state’s domestic-violence laws, and we make sure our officers are highly trained in this area.

We also work with the Violence Prevention Coalition, which provides a central collaboration point for nonprofit agencies addressing violence-against-partner abuse. We have officers, who on their own time, volunteer with the nonprofits to continue that relationship beyond the walls of the DPD.

In 2012, 761 victims of domestic violence accessed services through Alternative Horizons. During that same period, 317 domestic-violence cases were reported to the District Attorney’s Office in the 6th Judicial District. This is in line with national statistics, which show that many domestic-violence victims may never report to law enforcement. The DPD had more than 125 domestic-violence calls in 2012.

Domestic violence is everybody’s business. Even if you have never personally experienced it, chances are good that someone you know has. Whether you report it to police or contact a resource that can help you, help is available.

Lt. Ray Shupe is assistant operations division commander with the Durango Police Department.

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