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Phila. Rethinks How Police Probe Domestic Abuse

The Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix

December 29, 2009

When a Philadelphia police officer responds to a domestic violence call, the officer probably does not know if the home has a history of problems or whether someone living there has an active restraining order.

If there are no obvious signs of violence, the officer typically can do nothing more than leave a business card with hotline numbers.

And if no police action is taken, the initial report the officer files — known as a “48” — often says simply “domestic violence, adjusted by police.”

But after an unexpected surge in domestic homicides this year, the Philadelphia Police Department is rewriting the book on the way officers investigate, report, and make referrals in domestic abuse cases.

Last year, there were 21 domestic homicides. As of Dec. 11, there had been 35 — a 67 percent increase. Since then, there have been two more homicides that eventually could be classified as domestic.

This jump comes with incongruous timing — the city’s overall homicide rate has dropped 23 percent in the past two years. As of yesterday, the city had logged 300 homicides, compared to 390 in 2007.

While domestic violence is impossible to eradicate, police leaders believe the changes they are planning will make officers more effective in dealing with the problem and getting help to victims.

An updated police directive will not be ready until after the new year, but the focus will be on better collection and use of information.

Police districts will be required to keep their own databases on domestic calls, by name and address, which will show victims and homes with repeat calls.

Dispatchers will be required to provide that data when an officer responds to a call, and to report whether anyone in the home has obtained a protection-from-abuse order from the courts.

“The point we wanted to make is there are warning signs,” said Deputy Commissioner Patricia Giorgio-Fox. “We’re looking for good predictors for future violence.”

There were warning signs in several of this year’s homicides.

Since January 2008, police had fielded 10 calls from the North Philadelphia home of Willie Lamont Scott, three of which were classified as domestic calls. On Feb. 21, Scott fired more than 10 shots into his ex-girlfriend, Larosa Gonzalez, in front of the couple’s 4-year-old daughter, police said.

Police received 21 calls from the home of Renee Farrow-Nesmith, seven of which were related to domestic violence. In June, her husband, Marvin Nesmith, shot her and another woman during a Father’s Day celebration at their Overbrook home, according to police.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50


    over 4 years ago


    Sounds like the technology for the info is already available, and in use by other departments. Hope the PPD can utilize it soon.

  • Aaa_max50


    over 4 years ago


    History of calls to any address is critical for responding officers.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 4 years ago


    We have the same as many of u, Cad keeps track of any kind of history at the residence we are dispatched to. Also WV State Law/policy/procedure, in the incident of DV, any party/victim that has signs of physical abuse is PC for an arrest on the accused. Great part of that is that we an hook up both parties (giving they both have signs of physical abuse), kids go with CPS. After about the 2nd arrest, both parties realize, if they keep it up, its bye-bye time, and if they have kids...they loose'em.

  • Ba_old_glory_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Wow, somewhere a light goes on...Seriously if this helps LEOs, cool!

  • Draped_badge_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Man we had mandatory arrests on dv calls about 10 years ago...If there is a mark on any one the opposite one goes to jail there is no leeway in it....If no marks kind of a judgement call depends on the evidence. Our CAD also keeps track of that stuff push a button and you get everything...Even on traffic stops, shows how many times the driver was stopped and if he was issued a ticket or not...Technology is great...

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    We have the same thing mudpuppynj, it is an excellent tool to use.

  • Lakewood_pd_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Our Cad keeps electronic records of calls for service at every address and our dispatchers let us know histories prior to our response. Also we can look up previous calls for service ourselves on the MDT's. Is a very valuable tool for us on the street.

  • Plmb2s3sk_max600_max50


    over 4 years ago


    this is a good idea. I too am surprised they don't have it in place already.

  • Blacks2_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Irishcop1961, God Bless you Brother. I was thinking that same thing. I think all this was in place for my community at least 15 plus years ago. Sounds like a "Tradition" problem - "We've always done it this way."

  • Untitledma28839986-0002_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Wow, I can't believe they don't have this in place already.

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