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2013-06-05 at NOON

Rising violence

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
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Domestic violence rates in the city have more than doubled in the past eight years.

Last year 672 people were charged in more than 2,300 cases of domestic violence.

It’s a staggering number that has the Thunder Bay Police Service concerned to the point that on Wednesday the force announced a new six-member Domestic Violence Unit to handle the cases.
“We’re way above the national average,” chief J.P. Levesque said.

Along with social concerns, the amount of domestic violence cases has depleted police resources as officers need to spend up to six hours on each incident if charges are laid.

Now uniform officers can send the cases to the two-person specially trained teams if charges result from a domestic violence call.

It will improve everything from making sure reports are ready for Crown attorneys to helping victims through the court process.

“The big thing is spending time with the victim and finding the community agencies to help them and that’s really important,” Sgt. Jim Glena, who’s running the unit, said.

Glena said that of the 672 people charged last year, 563 males and 109 females, around 350 had been charged with domestic violence before. It’s also common for a person to be charged with multiple offences during a domestic violence call.

“Sometimes two or three charges,” Glena said.

The new unit means community agencies like Faye Peterson Transition House will now have officers to contact, which may help more victims of domestic violence come forward. Director Debbie Zweep having police experts in the field trained in subjects like risk assessment will go a long way.

“It’s probably the most exciting thing I’ve hear in a while,” she said of the unit. “You’re going to have this expertise on the subject on what’s going on in the relationship that we haven’t seen before.”

Zweep said along with a huge increase in the amount of domestic violence cases, the severity of violence is on the rise too. Abuse, such as strangulation, is becoming much more common in domestic cases.

“It’s not that we didn’t see them before but we didn’t see them in this numbers,” she said.

And police numbers don’t represent all of the incidences as a large number of people who go to Faye Peterson Transition House don’t report to police. Zweep said the domestic violence unit might change that as well. Officers in plain clothes with familiarity about the subject will help.

“They’re going to know what questions to ask and how to make people feel comfortable and safe,” she said.

The unit is being formed out of the now defunct Focused Enforcement Team. Levesque said no new money was required.




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peas08 says:
350 had been charged before. This is truly sad. Do they have anger management course requirements or anything? It makes you wonder how many other incidents go unreported. It would really be nice to put Thunder Bay on the map for something good. So tired of hearing about, drugs, robberies and assaults. Our community is better than this. I am glad they are making a task force to deal with this but horrified that one is actually necessary
6/5/2013 12:58:50 PM
Escroft says:
Thunder Bay barely has enough officers to cover the city as it is. Response times are over 40 minutes a call. No wonder these criminals take their time on the cameras. This city's police force is a catastrophe. As if these specific officers can do anything different.
6/5/2013 1:58:12 PM
Muskie12 says:
Shifting resources to local priorities makes sense to me.
6/5/2013 3:18:16 PM
Doug Meyers says:
Did you even read the article? This will aid in getting the beat cops back on the street more quickly. They are trying to address the problems we face by trying something different; how are you helping?
6/5/2013 3:32:52 PM
Baor says:
And this 40 min "stat" is found where exactly?
6/5/2013 6:52:26 PM
Synical says:
I have nothing but praise for Thunder Bay police when it comes to their handling of domestic abuse cases, and that includes their response times. Many years ago, I was in a violent relationship. When I called the police, their response time was 3 minutes. And, to top it off, they were incredibly supportive throughout the process.

I'm very glad to hear about this new unit, and I'm sure many will benefit from it.
6/6/2013 12:05:13 AM
yup says:
Escroft, as you have read in the news article a domestic investigation can take up to 6 hours. Now that the front line officers are not tied up in such a lengthy investigation they can respond to other calls more fast. This is a good thing.
6/5/2013 3:14:41 PM
TWM says:
I am in no way trying to make light of a serious issue but when it comes to categorizing what constitutes a "domestic" assault charge or call... that's changed and with that, the number of calls being listed as domestic. One of the few tactics any institution has at it's disposal is citing a increase in a problem area, which hopefully garners more funding from government.
6/5/2013 4:35:44 PM
TIC says:
I hate to say it but with all the changes to the laws with regards to domestics they have done this to themselves. I agree that no one, MAN or WOMAN should be assaulted and when that happens it should be dealt with quickly; however, some of things people are being charged with these days are beyond ridiculous and people are being charged with little to no evidence at all. All it take these days is one person to pick up the phone and dial 911 and accuse someone of assaulting them and that person 8 out 10 times is being charged even though there is often very little or no evidence to support it. It is a sad situation right now.
6/5/2013 6:25:02 PM
The Beaver..... says:
So let me asked...where is the system that's supposed to be there and help.That includes the Fee Peterson establishment as well as the
Court System.I was very close to a case that dragged on for over two years and ended with the Judge sending him home.
Now that was a supreme act of protecting a abused Wife and then we read about repeats.Establishing a new group to deal with this kind of behaviour does absolutely nothing if in the end the Courts allows the offender to return and use his dominating and abusive manners.In fact he/she is now in a position to assume the Law is on his/her side....
6/5/2013 8:14:55 PM
Stephernova says:
This is terrible news, but yet great news at the same time. Unfortunately domestic violence is up, but I have to agree with everything Debbie stated in this article. More accommodating support for these situations is best!
6/5/2013 11:46:48 PM
ThunderBayFullOfCrime says:
I'm betting most of the domestic assault calls stem from alcohol issues in this town. A lot of issues here are from alcohol influence.
6/6/2013 10:06:07 AM
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