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Police department receives award
DUVALL Years ago, if you asked the Duvall Police how
they'd change the handling of domestic violence cases, they would have
said "more input on the prosecuting side."
Today, that's exactly how they pursue such cases.
The department realized that too many of their domestic violence
offenders were being tried in Seattle by over-burdened prosecutors.
Geography also made it difficult for Duvall officers to drive to the city and
give pertinent information to the judge about the history or specifics of
That's when the agency decided to hire its own domestic violence
advocate and prosecutor, said Sgt. Bob Akey. Now the cases are handled
at Northeast District Court in Redmond.
"Myself, the advocate, and the prosecutor do the most we can to
prevent domestic violence from happening again," he said. "Does it
always work? No, but it's a good goal."
Not only does the new way of handling domestic violence cases
help officers battle the crime, it also brings them recognition from the
King County Prosecutor's Office.
"The teamwork of police, prosecutors, and victim advocates enables
us to prosecute domestic violence cases effectively," said Prosecutor
Norm Maleng. "The preservation of evidence, the gentle handling of
victims, and the testimony at trial is crucial to moving these cases forward."
As a result, four departments - including Kirkland, Seattle, the
King County Sheriff's Office and Duvall - received the 1999 Law
Enforcement Professionalism Award to commemorate their efforts to curb domestic
"No matter how many times anyone is honored for it, it won't
go away," Akey said of the destructive crime. "We need to continue
working harder and harder to combat it as best we can."
According to the Duvall Police Department's annual report, the
number of domestic violence cases rose from 32 in 1995 to 71 incidents
last year. And those numbers are just the cases that are reported.
"Mostly the beginning [stages] go unreported. When an officer
knows, it's because of an assault situation," Akey commented.
By that time, the aggressor has already slashed the victim's self
esteem and the problem has probably been "festering for years," he added.
"Their self image is garbage so they think they can't leave," he
said. "How do we get a person to admit that they're in a bad relationship and
need to get out?"
That's where the victim's advocate can help. The department
contracted a person who can talk with the victim and alleviate any fears they might
have about leaving their violent environment.
"[As an officer] your heart is wrenched for an hour, but the
advocate is in contact with the victim until the case is solved," Akey said.
There are many organizations in the area that specifically handle
domestic violence situations including the Eastside Domestic Violence
Program (EDVP). Everyday EDVP helps families understand domestic
violence and its dangers and finds safe places for victims to live. Last year,
EDVP took 5,000 calls on their crisis-line and provided more than 8,000
shelter spaces for victims and their families.
For more information about EDVP, call their 24-hour crisis-line
at (425) 746-1940 or 1-800-827-8840.