When a Philadelphia police officer responds to a domestic violence call, the officer probably does not know if the home has a history of problems or whether someone living there is subject to a restraining order. If there are no obvious signs of violence, says the Philadelphia Inquirer, the officer typically just leaves a business card with hotline numbers.
After an unexpected surge in domestic homicides, the police department is rewriting the book on the way officers investigate, report, and make referrals in domestic abuse cases. Police districts will keep their own databases on domestic calls, by name and address, which will show victims and homes with repeat calls. Dispatchers will provide that data when an officer responds to a call, and will report whether anyone in the home has obtained a protection-from-abuse order. “The point we wanted to make is there are warning signs,” said Deputy Commissioner Patricia Giorgio-Fox. “We’re looking for good predictors for future violence.” There were warning signs in several of this year’s homicides.