By Hazel Ford–
The Citrus Heights Police Department has been partnering with a local nonprofit crisis center for the past eight years in a collaborative effort to reduce domestic violence — and latest statistics released by police indicate the effort has been a success.
In a recent news release, police cited a 23 percent drop in felony domestic violence incidents in Citrus Heights from 2013 to 2016, along with a 31 percent drop in misdemeanor domestic violence, a 20 percent drop in protective order violations, and a 21 percent drop in non-criminal domestic violence calls, such as verbal arguments. Overall that amounts to a total drop in domestic violence-related calls and incidents from 1,069 in 2013, down to 825 in 2016, according to data provided to The Sentinel by Lt. David Gutierrez.
Police credit the drop to a partnership with “A Community For Peace,” a Citrus Heights-based nonprofit focused on care for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. In 2009, CHPD formed a Domestic Violence Response Team with the nonprofit, pairing up a “victim advocate” to ride along with specially trained officers and respond to domestic violence-related calls, when possible.
“Reducing incidents of domestic violence throughout Citrus Heights has always been a part of CHPD’s vision and mission,” said Gutierrez in an Aug. 30 statement to media. “We know to achieve this it takes more than just the police.”
Calling education and understanding “critical” in addressing domestic violence, police said the long-term support offered by organizations like A Community For Peace is key to many victims’ recovery. Gutierrez said the partnership’s value “is highlighted every time we are able to reach a victim and provide them the resources and the support network necessary to get them out of the cycle of violence.”
Police also said helping victims who have been raised in an environment where abuse and domestic violence is tolerated can be challenging because the victims sometimes lack understanding on the severity of their situation. Children who have been exposed to domestic violence are also at a higher risk of becoming victims or perpetrators later on in life, according to police.
A $147,000 grant was awarded to Citrus Heights police in 2013 which helped target additional support for children exposed to domestic violence, Lt. Gutierrez told The Sentinel. Police said the grant has been beneficial in reducing domestic violence and also preventing it from occurring in the future, by reaching child victims early on.
So far, crime trends show domestic violence in Citrus Heights has continued to decrease in 2017, with the exception of protective order violations. Police attribute the increase in these violations to “more victims receiving services and them holding their abusers accountable.”
A Community For Peace will be hosting an upcoming “Celebration of Hope” at the Citrus Heights Community Center, with a goal to “gather and celebrate the courage and perseverance of the women who strive to transform the hurt and harm caused them and their children by abusive relationships and environments,” according to a news release.
The event will include a message from Ruthie Bolton, a former WNBA Monarch and Gold Medal Olympian, as she shares her personal experience with domestic violence. The event will be held on Oct. 6, from 6-9 p.m.
A spokesperson for A Community For Peace was unable to be reached for comment in time for this story.
*This story originally appeared in The Sentinel’s Weekend e-Edition on Sept. 10th. Click here to become a subscriber and get access to all our stories.