Brian Haas over at The Tennessean is reporting on Mayor Dean's initiative to lower Nashville's domestic violence rates. I'm glad this is happening, but I did feel a little deja vu when reading. And then I got to this part:
In the 1990s, the department created one of the first — and possibly largest — domestic violence units in the country. Up to 25 detectives at any one time did nothing but handle cases involving current and former spouses and paramours. The unit won widespread acclaim for recognizing that domestic violence cases often require a specialized skill set for dealing with victims who often don’t want to prosecute and suspects who use power and fear to escape prosecution.
By 2007, we were down to ten detectives and last year there were only two prosecutors assigned to domestic violence cases.
I can't help but be reminded that this decline was happening at the same time some on the police force were playing "Let's not call it a rape, so our stats look better." This worries me.
Most things that go wrong in the lives of women that require police intervention go wrong at the hands of someone we care about. As Haas points out, in order to deal with it effectively, it does require people to take it seriously and to understand how victimizers can manipulate in order to avoid prosecution.
And, like I said, I'm really glad that Mayor Dean has a plan for how to deal with the issue and some clearly defined goals. But how can we keep this from sliding to the back burner again? This is THE thing most women who need the police need them for. We can't just say "Well, Nashville, half of you get an effective criminal justice system only when we feel like it." And I don't think that's solved solely by politicians. This is something Nashvillians need to hold them to.