Editorial: Taking steps

Next Friday, Oct. 14, Wilton police officers are partnering with the Riverbrook Regional YMCA on Danbury Road to raise money for the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Norwalk. Participants may join in a Zumba class or indoor cycling.

Domestic violence matters in Wilton because it is one category of crime that even a wealthy suburban town is not immune to. There are few arrests for street crimes like robbery here, but Wilton is no stranger to domestic violence. Nary a week goes by that the police blotter does not contain an incident of verbal or physical abuse.

Last year, there were 50 domestic violence cases. These exclude what the police classify as verbal abuse. Of those 50 cases, dating relationships accounted for 18, the most of any category. Fifteen incidents involved spouses, 14 were between a parent and child, siblings accounted for two, and one was classified as other.

Arrests were made in 72% of the incidents. Drugs and/or alcohol factored in 22% of the cases.

Capt. Thomas Conlan of the Wilton Police Department said the state mandates “we have at minimum a two-hour block of training every three years on domestic violence.” In 2013, the department implemented the Lethality Assessment Program.

Under this program, officers responding to a domestic violence call screen the victim by asking the person a series of specific questions, and should the responses indicate a high level of danger, the victim will be offered an opportunity to immediately speak by phone with a domestic violence hotline advocate, at which time safety concerns will be addressed. After the phone call, officers help the victim implement any safety plan that has been developed.

Last year, this program came into play on 24 calls. Twelve of the calls were classified as “high danger” and in 10 instances the victim spoke with a counselor.

Over the past two years, the Domestic Violence Crisis Center has helped more than 170 Wilton residents through counseling, safety planning, legal assistance, and ongoing support. It also works to prevent abusive situations through its educational programs.

Next Friday’s event will help support the work the crisis center offers to residents of Wilton and six nearby towns. To augment this effort, police officers will wear purple ribbon pins on their uniforms for all of October, each year designated for domestic violence awareness.

For more information on the YMCA event, call Sgt. David Hartman or Lt. Rob Cipolla at 203-834-6260. To sign up, email Mary Ann Genuario at magenuario@riverbrookymca.org.

To learn more about the Domestic Violence Crisis Center, visit dvccct.org. The 24-hour hotline number is 1-888-774-2900.