In recognition of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, WIZS’ Town Talk program has featured several organizations that respond to abuse and domestic violence situations in the local area. On Tuesday’s edition of Town Talk, representatives from the Henderson Police Department (HPD) discussed their experiences in dealing with domestic violence calls.
“Each time we get a call, it’s a different situation,” said Lt. Jessica West. “Domestic violence is not just people that live in the same house; it’s many different kinds of relationships.”
While two spouses verbally arguing or physically fighting may come to mind when the words domestic violence are mentioned, West said it is just as often siblings, parents and children, cousins or ex-boyfriends/girlfriends involved.
Domestic violence also extends to all genders, races and socio-economic backgrounds. “It’s a stereotype that women are always the victim. Men are victims as well but may be less likely to report,” said West.
In cases of repeated domestic violence issues, West said that the problem often starts out as emotional abuse and quickly turns to physical violence. “A lot of abuse begins as emotional abuse and control methods and escalates to physical abuse. Many victims can’t see that they are being abused, but others around them see it.”
According to West, while there are some referrals after the fact, the HPD mainly gets involved when either the victim or a concerned family member or neighbor calls to report an in-progress incident.
“The 911 dispatchers are trained on how to handle a domestic dispute call and know how to dispatch officers to the scene accordingly,” West said.
Calls involving a weapon of any kind get the highest priority. “Whether it be a gun or someone swinging a stick around, if a weapon is involved the call becomes a high priority,” said West.
West said when the call is first answered, the dispatcher will verify the name and address to ensure they are sending officers to the correct location. “This is why it is so important to make sure that children know their address, their name and their parents’ names,” West explained.
Officer Ryan Woodlief, also on Town Talk representing the HPD, described how advances in technology allow officers to view a “narrative” of the 911 history of the call location, including previous incidents, whether there are juveniles living in the home and vehicle information.
When asked how he handled calls of such a sensitive nature, especially as they may involve children, West responded, “I try to relate to the people that I’m serving as much as I can and try to put myself in their shoes.”
This understanding often goes a long way to help calm frayed nerves and volatile situations.
To assist those victims who are in immediate need of removal from their home or situation, the HPD has a relationship with Infinite Possibilities, Inc, an organization that helps victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence find temporary shelter in a safe, discreet location.
Infinite Possibilities, Inc. is available 24/7 by calling their hotline at (252) 425-2492. For help in an emergency situation, call 911.
To listen to the interview in its entirety, please click here.