Rutland task force tackles domestic violence - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Rutland task force tackles domestic violence

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Police say Kristen Parker was killed by her boyfriend while her three kids were in the house. The Pittsford mom used to live in Rutland. Her parents still reside there.

"You can't be in this work and not be affected by those kind of cases," Rutland Police Chief James Baker.

Parker's murder is one of several lately that police say have a common thread-- domestic violence. It's known as a "silent crime" that state and local law enforcement in this room say is on the rise in Rutland.

"We have some of the highest percentage of temporary restraining orders issued, but some of the lowest numbers of permanent orders issued. We have some of the lowest numbers of arrest in the county for domestic violence, but the network has some of the highest call volume in the state," Baker said.

Those numbers are just one reason why Rutland County was selected to receive a $200,000 grant from Department of Justice. The money will be used to track domestic violence cases, with the ultimate goal of preventing homicides or severe assaults.

"To see how we respond to domestic violence, from the hospital, the community, law enforcement, advocacy programs," said Marianne Kennedy of the Rutland County Women's Network and Shelter.

The work so far has already uncovered key risk factors: unemployment, substance abuse and stepchildren living in the home.

"The partnership with law enforcement and advocacy is imperative and key to this program," Kennedy said.

And while police say tragic deaths like Parker's may not have been preventable, there are hundreds of other cases that could be. Last year, the Rutland County Women's Network and Shelter served 270 women and had to turn away nearly as many, for lack of room.

"We are in the year 2013 and as a society you would think we could do a whole lot better than what we are doing. But I think the biggest part is going to be education, educating the public to get involved," Vt. State Police Maj. Ed Ledo said.

More than 100 jurisdictions applied for the grant and only 12 were accepted, including, Brooklyn, N.Y., Miami-Dade County, Fla., and Cleveland, Ohio. Rutland was by far the smallest, but officials say the work being done here could be used as a model for rural jurisdictions across the country.

The county says it will use the data it collects over the next year to apply for another 3-year, $1 million grant to continue the work.

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