Domestic calls rise in 2016

Domestic calls to the police department increased in 2016, but police said actual cases of violent contact in domestic disputes dropped compared with the year before.

Overall domestic calls rose to 99 this year from 88 in 2015, as of last week, according to Lt. Robert Cipolla, the department’s domestic violence liaison, but the number of actual violent cases dropped to 37, compared with 50 the previous year.

“Conflicts in family violence is a very specific definition of family violence, and involves physical injury or the threat thereof,” Cipolla said. “It includes stalking, and results in injury or is a threat thereof. We are less than last year by about 15 with those numbers.”

Domestic calls in general could involve household members having a disagreement, or a disagreement between a parent and child over doing homework. It is not always man and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend.

In cases where it does involve relationship partners, “we have a strong relationship with the domestic violence crisis center, and that helps us get help for victims of family violence, such as advocate services,” Cipolla said.

“We as a police department must investigate the family violence, hold offenders accountable, and make sure victims are safe,” he added.

It is estimated only one in four domestic violence cases is reported to police. Most of the crimes are unreported because the couple is involved in a loving relationship and neither one wants trouble with the law.

“We can’t address those cases, unless we are aware of it,” Cipolla said.

The department has a questionnaire for family members to fill out to help determine if they are in a high-danger or low-danger situation. That is an example of something proactive the police can do to prevent domestic violence.

The decreasing number of violent cases is a good thing, Cipolla said.

“Hopefully, we can maintain that.”