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Ed Bachrach: Coordinate domestic violence responses

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Ed Bachrach

Imagine, for a moment, that a deranged person is stalking the very block you live on assaulting your neighbors with life threatening violence. Imagine further that you can predict with 90% confidence that, if that person is not stopped, he will kill someone. And finally, imagine that the authorities will not respond sufficiently to protect anyone.

This past week, amidst all of the horrible experiences of 2020, there were two tragic incidents of family violence in Decatur. In one, the grandmother of a victim was killed when the victim’s abuser went on a rampage, according to police. In another, a victim was violently abused, the perpetrator arrested, and then released in an enraged state to further threaten the victim, police said.

Domestic violence is real, deadly, and pervasive. Like terrorism, like COVID, like school shootings, like any public threat, it requires a coordinated and effective response from the law enforcement sector to protect innocent citizens. For some reason, though, many communities treat domestic violence with an insufficient response leaving hundreds dead and hundreds of thousands miserable every year.

A recent book, "No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us," tells the story of Michelle Mosure who was murdered in her home along with her two children by her husband, before he took his own life. In the aftermath of that tragedy, law officials in that community put their heads together and formed a Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission. Now more than 40 states, as well as the UK, Australia, and New Zealand have fatality review and prevention teams.

Experts have developed simple tests that can be completed by a responding police officer that can accurately predict the likelihood of a future homicide. All that is left then, is the will of officials throughout the law enforcement sector to get their heads together and take the steps necessary to take the abuser into custody and protect the victim.

Many communities are now creating Family Violence Coordinating Councils made up of those authorities who touch every aspect of this law enforcement problem including police, state’s attorneys, public defenders, judges, and family violence advocates. These groups meet regularly to explore best practices that they can implement to protect victims and innocent bystanders while lawfully protecting the rights of accused abusers. These efforts work and we need look no further than Winnebago County home to Rockford, Illinois for an example.

Decatur and Macon County should join the communities who have embraced effective response and give victims and those who live down the street the protection they deserve.

Ed Bachrach is the retired Chairman and CEO of Bachrach Clothing a long-time supporter of DOVE.

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