Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman is setting up a “triage group” of police officers and representatives of private and public agencies to prevent severe domestic violence by identifying high-risk individuals and situations, reports the Providence Journal. The group would meet weekly to prioritize cases and to intervene quickly. The initiative is a result of a spike in homicides in Providence in 2009. There were 24 homicides last year, compared with 13 in 2008. Of the 24, 8 were incidents of domestic violence, compared with zero in 2008.
Social workers assigned to the police already handle domestic-violence cases that are referred to them, and they sometimes accompany the police on domestic-violence calls. The triage group would bring more concentrated attention to cases, most of which would be known through complaints of domestic violence. Contacts would be stepped up, with the police, social workers or others making home visits or phone calls. The Journal details one homicide that police suggested might have been prevented this way. In the eight domestic homicides last year, police said only three involved people known to the department as domestic-violence victims or offenders.