A Dallas man who attacked his sister with a hammer and two years later beat his ex-girlfriend slipped through a system strained by heavy caseloads, staffing shortages, and frequently uncooperative victims, says the Dallas Morning News. Other cities use techniques to help identify high-risk domestic offenders and stop them before something deadly happens. Dallas Police Chief David Brown has ordered more detectives assigned to the family violence unit to reduce the caseload. He instructed his commanders to look at what’s being done elsewhere. “You’ve got to figure out a way to catch that flag – that individual that’s escalating to murder,” Brown said, cautioning that he didn’t want to create a system in which detectives overlooked something just because it didn’t show the standard warning signs. “You’ve got to treat them all as a priority.”
Family violence represents a quandary for police. Burglary and theft detectives work high caseloads, too, but those crimes typically produce no leads and require little follow-up. Domestic violence cases almost always have a known offender and require more follow-up work. More important, each one represents the potential for a deadly outcome.