Pittsburgh police get help for victims of domestic violence
In just two weeks, Pittsburgh police convinced 36 victims of domestic violence to get help as part of a new program meant to reduce intimate partner killings.
“We've made a difference,” Detective Tamara Hawthorne said on Tuesday. “I know just by being on the phones. Just in talking with them and letting them know someone is with you. I have no doubt we've made a difference.”
From the program's Dec. 16 launch until Dec. 31, officers asked 89 people a series of questions to determine the likelihood they are in danger of intimate partner violence, said Lorraine Bittner, legal director of the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, which is working with police on the lethality screenings.
“The fact the police take the time to go over this with them immediately and ask those questions … seems to be getting through to the victim in a way that other things haven't,” Bittner said. “It makes an impact when the officer says, ‘I'm concerned for your safety; look at these indicators.' ”
Officers identified 68 people deemed to be in high-danger situations, Sgt. Eric Kroll said.
“I think that's what we expected,” Bittner said of that figure. “They're already at a point where there is police intervention.”
Police supervisors with department-issued cellphones call the Women's Center hotline to put those victims in touch with an advocate.
“Even if the victim is in no condition to talk, we follow up,” Kroll said. “Nobody gets left behind.”
Of the 68 high-risk people, 57 talked with an advocate, and 36 of those went to services, Kroll said.
“If you get a victim into services, you're less likely to have a repeat call with them … and the victim is more likely to show up to the (preliminary) hearing,” Kroll said.
The program is modeled after the Maryland Lethality Assessment Program. City Council passed legislation in June requiring Pittsburgh police officers to undergo domestic violence training. That legislation was prompted by the death of Ka'Sandra Wade, 33, who called 911 a day before police found her shot to death in her Lowell Street home in Larimer.
Two officers responding to a Dec 31, 2012, call at the home left when Wade's boyfriend, Anthony L. Brown, 51, of Point Breeze, spoke to them through a window but refused to let them in. Brown confessed to killing her in a note and committed suicide during a police standoff at his apartment two days later.
Of the nine domestic-related homicides in Allegheny County last year, only one victim had sought services, Kroll said.
“I teach the recruits domestic violence training,” said Kroll, an instructor at the police academy. “I tell them it will save somebody's life and they won't even know it.”
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.