Domestic violence is a problem that knows no boundaries. It affects both men and women from all walks of life. It crosses all economic groups, ethnic groups and age is not a factor.
The University City area has had an increase in aggravated assaults and domestic violence. In 2011, there were 49 aggravated assaults (half of those were domestic violence cases). In 2012, there were 60 aggravated assaults (half of those were domestic violence cases).
At this time last year, there was one aggravated assault; this year there have been four so far.
CMPD has 13 divisions in the city and each division has three response areas. Lt. Jim Wright is in charge of Response Area I for the University City Division. It includes land that boarders the Mineral Springs area, West Sugar Creek Road and I-85, and extends to the county line.
Wright says both men and women have been victims, although 80 percent to 90 percent are women: “Females are more affected by emotional and physical abuse than men,” he said.
It is important to know that police officers do offer victims intervention. CMPD officers can share information about domestic counseling offered by the county; they can distribute pamphlets and provide other information to focus on options for assistance. CMPD also has a victims’ services liaison and a Victim Assistance Unit. They even do follow-up with detectives on the case.
The CMPD pamphlet has a vast amount of helpful information. It explains various aspects of domestic violence in detail. It has a long list of agencies and services available. There is also information about having a safety plan and potential legal steps.
“We try to get people to call us before it’s too late,” said Wright. His goal is to be proactive with domestic violence cases. He knows that some CMPD officers have handled domestic violence homicides. “We prefer to offer services before it becomes personal or physical.”
One of the agencies listed in the CMPD pamphlet is the Mecklenburg County Women’s Commission. It provides emergency cell phones to victims of domestic violence.
Wright strongly encourages people in potentially dangerous situations to take action early. “If there is tension and someone is looking for cover, we want to people to call us before a door gets kicked in or before a person gets assaulted,” said Wright.
He believes that, unfortunately, many people are in denial that they are in a domestic violence situation: “Some don’t realize the danger until they get seriously physically assaulted.”