JACKSON, TN (abc24.com) - Residents in Jackson, Tennessee are saying their police department's Domestic Violence Unit has been a resounding success. The unit, which was established in September 2009, is being applauded for its successful and vigorous approach in tackling the problem of domestic violence.
After seeing a disturbing rise in the number of domestic violence related killings, the Jackson Police Department decided a special unit was needed to address the situation.
"Domestic assault is like no other crime… it's a whole different dynamic than any other crime," stated JPD Sgt. Deborah Stanfill. "This is a problem that's not going away."
For that reason, Stanfill says a decision was made to create a unit like no other. So three and half years ago, the Jackson PD assigned a staff of five, including Stanfill and four part-time workers, to focus solely on cases involving domestic violence.
"We knew we weren't addressing it the way it should be addressed. At that time we had several homicides that were domestic-related for several years," she said.
Between 2005 and 2009 the City of Jackson had 45 homicides and 11 of those were domestic. Five of those murders occurred in 2005, all of which were related to domestic violence.
In the years since the DVU has been intervening, they've had one since 2010.
Sgt. Stanfill says one of the keys to the success of the domestic violence unit is the commitment and support investigators receive from judges and prosecutors at the courthouse.
"Some of the old ones we used to see all the time we're not seeing anymore because once they realize when they get to court it wasn't going to be dismissed or they'll get 45 days to serve or a year, that changes some minds," she said. "They need to know they don't just do it and walk away."