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New Mecklenberg County policy hopes to reduce domestic violence

Domestic violence is a serious problem in North Carolina, one that can be difficult of police officers to stamp out. Domestic abuse often takes place in the privacy of the home, and it often goes unreported. Sadly, in many cases, domestic violence can quickly progress to homicide, leaving friends and family stunned and devastated.

In order to combat the domestic violence-related homicides that have occurred in Charlotte in recent years, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers have adopted a new strategy to combat domestic violence and help victims escape a dangerous situation before it escalates.

The process was first employed in Maryland, where it reduced domestic violence-related deaths by 40 percent. It involves improving officer training and response procedures in a way that better protects the victim. Now, every Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer who responds to a domestic violence situation will ask the victim a number of questions designed to determine the danger of the situation.

If the officer determines that the situation is potentially dangerous, the officers will connect victims to a 24-hour hotline run by United Family Services. UFS staff can then help the victim to get information, get help and get out.

The goal of the program, according to police, is to help victims to become more informed about their situation and the potential dangers it may present. The program aims to allow victims to make an informed decision about their future, rather than imposing a decision upon them.

This program will undoubtedly be an important resource for North Carolina victims of domestic violence. However, although leaving a situation is the best way to provide immediately safety for a victim, often abusers refuse to leave their victims in peace. Victims of domestic violence who need more permanent protection from a spouse may wish to consider applying for a 50B domestic violence protective order. This is a legal document, prepared by an attorney, that prevents abusers from approaching or contacting their victims. Abuse victims under the protection of a 50B can then recover from their experiences in peace, and concentrate on their future.

Sources: WSOC-TV, "New initiative aims to reduce domestic violence homicides in Mecklenburg County," Tenikka Smith, Nov. 8, 2012