Domestic violence ‘glaring exception’ to 11 years of crime reduction in L.A.

September 23, 2014

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – City Attorney Mike Feuer and police Chief Charlie Beck sounded an alarm on domestic violence recently, saying the issue’s impact in Los Angeles and across the nation goes beyond the allegations facing NFL running back Ray Rice and other players.

Domestic violence is the “glaring exception” to 11 years of crime reduction in Los Angeles, Beck said.

The Los Angeles Police Department has experienced an 18 percent increase in reports of domestic violence so far this year, translating to 1,300 more domestic violence calls than 2013, he said.

In South Los Angeles, calls are up 30 percent, he said. “We need to address that, not only as a police department, but as a city,” he said.

Beck said when calls come in, domestic abuse teams at 13 of the LAPD’s 21 divisions are at the ready to help “find support, find housing, with medical treatment — all of the plethora of things needed to address a family in crisis.”

The department is working with Feuer’s office and the mayor’s office to get funding for teams in all 21 divisions, Beck said.

He said neighbors and school officials can also help curb the trend by doing their part in reporting domestic violence.

Feuer said domestic violence victims, and even abusers, can call a confidential Los Angeles County hotline at (800) 978-3600 to ask for help from trained specialists.

He noted that the national conversation surrounding spousal and child abuse allegedly committed by NFL players “has been far too narrow.”

The City Attorney’s Office reviews 11,000 domestic violence cases a year, or 200 a week, he said.

“This is so much more than the NFL and its policies, and if we allow ourselves to think about domestic violence as a nation through the lens of one sports group, we are going to overlook the most important issues in our  neighborhoods every day,” he said.

Feuer said there are “deep connections” between domestic violence and other societal ills, such as gangs.

Children who witness or are victims of family violence are more likely to commit violence in the future and may look outside the family structure to build a surrogate family, potentially through gangs, Feuer said. He added that brain research indicates children traumatized by violence may not reach their potential in life. They “are forever going to have their biological potential inhibited, because their brains are never going to develop in ways that otherwise would have happened naturally,” he said.

Feuer said his office has a prosecutor, a victim-assistance specialist and investigators who are “all working together to fight for the victim, to protect the victim and to assure we do everything possible …  to be sensitive to that family.”

Attorneys and police are also focusing their efforts on enforcing a law that prohibits domestic abusers from owning guns, which can be “an ingredient that leads to tragedy,” Feuer said.

The City Attorney’s Office is also organizing a symposium of “youth leaders” in February to discuss issues of domestic violence, and is distributing informational pamphlets about domestic abuse in English, Spanish, Korean and Chinese, he said.