Baltimore’s police have modeled a domestic violence divison, with detectives and social workers, after the homicide unit, says the Baltimore Sun. In serious cases, they respond and handle the investigation, rather than leaving it with patrol officers. As a result, they say domestic killings have dropped from 13 or 14 in years past to four so far this year. It turns old ideas on its head. In years past, police commanders would dismiss domestic killings as unpreventable crimes. It happened inside, was “just a domestic” and people don’t need to worry. Prosecutor Julie Drake sees it another way — intervene in troubled households early and prevent the situation from becoming a homicide.
Officers are supposed to call the unit when they’re on the scene of a serious domestic dispute, but Lt. Vernell Shaheed says they’re still trying to get the word out to beat cops to make the proper notifications. It’s a new program so it takes some time to work out the kinks. In some districts, she said, officers call her unit on every singe case. They also review every domestic violence report, even ones involving no phyicial violence, to see if they need to intervene. Three calls to the same address gets their attention. That shows a pattern that could later erupt into violence.