KCPD has decreased numbers of DV
While the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) received fewer domestic violence (DV) cases in 2011 than previous years, organizations in the metro area have seen record numbers of domestic violence victims seeking their help.
The KCPD reports that in 2011, there were 3,270 assaults, which was a reduction of 518 from the prior year. According to their records, there were 4,244 reported assaults in 2009 and 3,788 reported assaults in 2010, a decrease of 556 from the previous year.
Three primary factors leading to the KCPD’s decreased cases include a downward trend in violence across the nation overall, the Lethality Assessment Program, and increased activity of domestic violence organizations, said Detective Benjamin Caldwell of the KCPD’s Domestic Violence Section.
“The KCPD instituted the Lethality Assessment Program in 2009 where in victims are screened after an assault and those who screen in as high lethality are put in contact with a DV advocate who can link them to services such as safety planning, shelter, and counseling. Studies have revealed a direct correlation between the institution of such a program and a drop in DV assaults,” Caldwell said. “Also, domestic violence shelters continue to partner with the community and reach out to victims of domestic violence and have continued to increase services each year as funding has been increased.”
Organization SAFEHOME has increase in DV cases
“We have definitely seen an increase in number of domestic violence cases, severity of cases, and people seeking our services this year,” said Sharon Katz, Executive Director of SAFEHOME in Johnson County. SAFEHOME is an organization that has served the Kansas City area since 1980, providing services for victims of domestic violence and their children though shelter, counseling, housing, economic and court advocacy programs.
This year, SAFEHOME has assisted 6,888 individuals, according to their 2011 Annual Agency Report. SAFEHOME received 4,046 crisis phone calls, 500 more than in 2010. The organization reported a record number of people sheltered in 2011: 353 women and children were sheltered, 91 more women and children than in 2010.
“We have steadily been over capacity in the shelter this year,” Katz said. “We consider 45 (occupied) beds at capacity and we’ve had up to 57 people at a time. Many (housed this year), 44, were housed at least briefly in our living room on mattresses because they were in life-threatening situations. We are seeing people staying with us longer and with fewer turnovers there are fewer beds.”
Many clients, but not all, report cases of domestic violence to the police, Katz said. “Victims are not calling (SAFEHOME or the police) as early as usual,” she said. “Economic hardships have led people to feel they can’t leave (their homes).”
A struggling economy is a factor in delayed calls reporting domestic violence, more severe cases, and longer stays in SAFEHOME shelters as clients try to get on their feet, Katz said. While the economy can contribute to higher demands of SAFEHOME’s services, Katz said she also believes the Lethality Assessment Protocol has had a huge impact on the numbers.
SAFEHOME strives to ramp up its programs to serve the increased needs of clients. It has taken on additional part-time staff and interns as it expects more demand of services and space, Katz said.
Caldwell said he is not surprised with the increase of people seeking DV services. Incidents of domestic violence assaults are often unreported for a myriad of reasons such as fear of increased violence, immigration status, lack of family support, financial dependency on the abuser, and children. Also, domestic violence is rarely a single event, so victims may not alert the police the each time.
“The only problem I see with this model is that there are limited resources in the form of money and a limited number of beds at shelters,” Caldwell said. “The Kansas City region has done a wonderful job of supporting the shelters that provide the many invaluable services to those who have been abused. It is the hope of the KCPD and the domestic violence community as a whole that the community continues to keep those in need at the forefront of the mind and continue to help those who so desperately need it.”
By the numbers
Kansas City Police Department domestic violence cases:
- 2009: 4,244 assaults
- 2010: 3,788 assaults
- 2011: 3,270 assaults
*Source: Kansas City Police Dept. – 1/26/12
Clients served at SAFEHOME – increases between 2010 and 2011
- Housed 353 women and children in the shelter, 91 more women and children than in 2010, a record number.
- Answered almost 500 more crisis calls in 2011.
- Saw over 50 more victims and children in the counseling program this year.
- Met with more than 100 additional victims in hospitals in 2011 in the BridgeSpan program.
- Provided civil legal services to 80 more clients than in 2010.
- Met with more than 175 additional victims at the courthouse.
*Source: Safehome 2011 Annual Agency Report – 1/24/12
*NOTE: Both the KCPD and SAFEHOME address domestic violence cases of all genders and relationships (heterosexual and homosexual), though do not have statistics regarding the number of such cases.