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Federal Way fights domestic violence

It has been two years since Federal Way police adopted the Domestic Violence Initiative as proof of their dedication to decreasing domestic violence — but the crime has not disappeared.

The city embraced the initiative and hired a domestic violence prosecutor in 2006. The legislation made it possible to prosecute those who committed domestic violence in the presence of a child. Federal Way won a Municipal Excellence Award in mid-2007 for the efforts.

Though the police department’s actions have made a dent in domestic violence, the crime is not one that just goes away. A steady effort to educate on the matter is needed, police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock said.

“Education is really the source of getting it reduced,” she said.

Calls for service

Domestic violence placed in the top five calls for service in the past decade, according to a May 2007 Federal Way Police Department press release. The crime still occurs often, though mostly in the form of verbal abuse lately.

Among this year’s 911 domestic violence calls in Federal Way, 740 were non-violent verbal arguments, according to an August 2008 domestic violence spreadsheet created by police.

For the time span of Aug. 13-19, 38 domestic violence verbal disputes were reported, according to the police crime log. The arguments mostly occurred between siblings, significant others and roommates. Disagreements over personal belongings, child custody, lifestyles and living situations sparked the arguments, according to the crime log. Even if no physical contact takes place in such disagreements, police turn out, Schrock said.

“We respond to ensure that everyone is safe and nobody is injured,” she said.

Police evaluate the scene and take note of the physical and emotional condition of those involved in a domestic violence call for service, she said. Thus far in 2008, 438 accounts of physical domestic violence have been placed with 911, according to the spreadsheet.

For the same time span in August, 10 physical domestic violence reports were taken. One involved a weapon and violation of a court order. A second and third case reported a possible choking incident and an instance in which somebody was bitten. Another documented an incident that took place in front of a child, all according to the police crime log.

By the numbers

Since 2005, the number of domestic violence 911 calls for service has changed only slightly, according to the police data.

In 2005, a total of 2,769 domestic violence 911 calls were made. In 2006, a total of 2,801 calls were placed. In 2007, a total of 2,644 instances were reported. From January to June 2008, a total of 1,325 domestic violence 911 calls were documented, all according to the spreadsheet.

Not all calls result in a police report, police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock said.

So far in 2008, of the 318 calls that did generate a police report, 197 included assault in the fourth degree. This is also known as simple assault and can include slapping, shoving, biting or pushing, among other things. It generally does not require medical attention, Schrock said. Sixty-five reports involved the presence of a child, according to the spreadsheet.

In all physical and several verbal cases, police distribute pamphlets with contact information for local agencies available to assist in domestic violence situations, Schrock said. These resources can help victims in creating a safety or relocation plan, she said. Domestic violence is not an issue to take lightly and anyone who is a victim of such a crime should report it.

“If they are a victim of domestic violence, they should call 911 even if it isn’t occurring right now,” Schrock said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

Check it out:

Following is a list of resources available to assist domestic violence victims. Most agencies offer advocacy, support and assistance in creating a safety or relocation plan.

• Valley Cities Counseling and Consultation victim advocacy services: (253) 835-9975. This agency also provides assistance in understanding the legal system and obtaining protection orders.

• King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence: www.kccadv.org/ or (206) 568-5462. This agency also offers a list of local and national 24-hour hotlines.

• Domestic Abuse Women’s Network: (425) 656-4309 or www.dawnonline.org/default.htm. This agency’s Web site allows one to evaluate a relationship and identify characteristics of domestic violence.

• YWCA: www.ywcaworks.org/page/25/

• Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence: (206) 389-2520 or www.wscadv.org/index.cfm

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