After years of declining attention to domestic violence, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's domestic violence task force and the Chicago Police Department are retraining officers in evidence collection and sensitivity for domestic situations and implementing a pilot program designed to identify and protect the victims most at risk, a change that has impressed city victim's advocates, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice brought the issue into the spotlight when a video of him punching his then-fiancee, now wife, in the face was made public in September.
In Chicago, as Emanuel's domestic violence task force focuses city resources on the issue, it's clear the additional attention could mean dramatic improvements for victims. In a city plagued with errant bullets and sudden shootouts, it's an opportunity to end killings that often seem predictable. Officers involved in the first four months of the pilot program on the city's Near North Side are responding faster to domestic calls, collecting more evidence, making more arrests and connecting victims with services more effectively, according to data collected by the task force and interviews with the stakeholders. “I was amazed at how just a few changes like that can make a difference in the way victims are being served,” said Kathleen Doherty of the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network, an advocacy group that is part of the task force.