Summit targets issues facing law enforcement
J.B. Van Hollen
Domestic violence continues to take the lives of many Wisconsin residents.
Wisconsin’s law enforcement officers respond to tens of thousands of domestic violence calls each year. Statistics from 2012 show that 28,729 domestic abuse incidents were reported to law enforcement and referred to prosecutors during the reporting period, representing a slight increase from 2011.
As part of my annual Summit on Public Safety this month in Wisconsin Dells, law enforcement will learn about the link between domestic violence and stalking as it relates to lethality, and we’ll explore Maryland’s Lethality Assessment Program. The Lethality Assessment Program is an evidence-based tool designed to assist first-responders in identifying victims of domestic violence at the greatest risk of being killed, and encouraging them to seek domestic violence services.
The Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women Resource prosecutor also will facilitate a panel discussion with six Wisconsin police agencies, all of which have implemented innovative policing strategies in their communities to battle domestic violence. Through the discussion, law enforcement attendees will walk away with some new “tools” for their own communities.
Heroin use also continues to significantly impact much of Wisconsin, resulting in the loss of far too many lives. Through recent legislation, the Department’s heroin prevention public awareness campaign “The Fly Effect,” and public engagement in the issue, we’ve collectively been able to better inform one another, but there’s still plenty of work to do in battling heroin’s deadly grasp, fueled largely, research shows, by the abuse of prescription drugs.
Results from a recent study, released online in JAMA Psychiatry, shows “75 percent of those who began their opioid abuse in the 2000s reported that their first regular opioid was a prescription drug.” And, nearly every respondent, according to the study, indicated they used heroin instead of prescription drugs not only for the “high” from heroin, but because prescription drugs were more expensive and more difficult to get. This is further evidence that the link between heroin abuse and the prescription drugs we keep in our household medicine cabinets is undeniable.
At this year’s summit, our presenters share how local law enforcement can take the lead in prevention efforts by bringing together multiple disciplines and community stakeholders to reduce abuse and in turn, reduce drug-related crime in their neighborhoods, and save lives. We’ll also explore effective investigative techniques when responding to an overdose death to ensure that those who deliver drugs that kill are held accountable.
Finally, the director of training and development for the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children will share strategies for establishing community-based partnerships across disciplines to respond to the needs of a child exposed to drug abuse or domestic violence in the home. By sharing tools and information, law enforcement in your community will be better equipped not only to respond to crises but lead efforts to prevent them.
J.B. Van Hollen is Wisconsin’s attorney general. He also served as the U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Wisconsin and district attorney in Ashland and Bayfield counties.