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Dallas Men Against Abuse Initiative

Michael McGee | 10/10/2013, 10:09 a.m.
Photo on Left: Mayor Mike Rollins presents David, who lived through domestic violence in his own home, a certificate proclaiming October 2013 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Photo on Right: Police Chief David Brown discusses police response to domestic violence. Mike McGee

The Dallas Examiner

Police Chief David Brown was to the point about the city’s role in stopping domestic violence.

“We need to be damned if we allow these women to continue to be abused in their own homes.”

Paraphrased from a line uttered by the physically abused character Sophia in The Color Purple, the chief’s quote summed up his feelings on the issue of family violence. Brown was one of several city officials at UT Southwestern for the Oct. 3 announcement of a new phase in Mayor Mike Rawling’s initiative aimed at reducing such crimes.

Jennifer Staubach Gates, District 13 city councilwomen and chairman of the Domestic Violence Task Force, stated that the DVTF brings together the police, the courts and community partners for a common cause.

The selection of UT Southwestern as a venue for the pronouncement was not a random choice. In January, executive assistant Karen Smith was fatally shot in the parking garage of the medical campus. Her husband was charged in the killing.

“Domestic violence is not only a deeply personal crime that can affect anyone, it is also a public safety issue,” she said. “It disturbed me recently when I heard a neighborhood crime watch captain who dismissed domestic violence incidents as true crimes in his neighborhood.”

The first step in combatting such violence and attitudes, Gates said, was to more effectively link the assistance of the police, district attorney’s office, misdemeanor and felony courts, shelters, caseworkers and volunteers.

Brown touched on some of those ongoing improvements. He pointed to the recent Lethality Assessment Program as a tool that has enhanced the department’s response to domestic violence scenarios, citing one specific example.

“The victim had been hit by a chair, choked and kicked by a suspect.” By the time police arrived on the scene, the attacker was gone. Brown said the officers completed the LAP evaluation, finding that the victim was in the high risk category for further danger. The chief indicated the victim was put on the phone with a counselor at The Family Place while officers remained on the scene.

“The officer then also gave the victim his cellphone number before he drove a block away to do the report.” As the officer worked on the report the victim called, saying her attacker had returned.

“The officer immediately returned to the location and was met by witnesses who said the suspect had a gun,” the chief stated. “The officer arrested the suspect at the scene before he was able to do untold damage to this person. This saved this person’s life.” Brown said the longer stay for the LAP assessment, the use of a department cellphone, and the officer’s ability to respond quicker made a difference.

“This is going to be, going forward, how we make a difference in a law enforcement perspective, in the lives of women who are abused,” he stated.

The second step that Gates discussed when combating family violence deals with Rawling’s efforts to bring domestic abuse awareness to high school athletics. With his new Dallas Men Against Abuse initiative, the mayor said that he wants to cement the lesson with young males that hitting women isn’t right.