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State Law Increases Domestic Violence Training For Police Officers

A San Diego police officer with a police dog waits outside a house with a possible suspect inside Friday, July 29, 2016.
Associated Press
A San Diego police officer with a police dog waits outside a house with a possible suspect inside Friday, July 29, 2016.
State Law Increases Domestic Violence Training For Police Officers
State Law Increases Domestic Violence Training For Police Officers GUEST: Lt. Misty Cedrun, leadership development unit, San Diego Police Department

A new state law requires police in California to get more training in handling cases of domestic violence. Specifically the bill signed by Governor Brown will make sure police are trained in making lethality assessments of domestic violence victims. That assessment can help determine which victims are at greatest risk of homicide serious injury or assault. San Diego police have gotten a head start in using the lethality assessments they've been part of the department's Domestic Violence Response for a year or so. Joining me is Lieutenant Misty Sidran former head of the domestic violence unit at the San Diego Police Department she now leads training for the department. And Lieutenant Cedric welcome to the program. Thank you for having me. Now San Diego is already using this lethality assessment. How does it actually work. What kinds of questions do officers ask. A domestic violence victim. So what we've been doing for many many years all San Diego County law enforcement agencies is a county wide domestic violence protocol. And in that we all respond to domestic violence radio calls in much the same way. The first thing that happens is patrol officers and deputies will complete a domestic violence supplemental form that asks specific questions relating to the assault. So it's it's an enhancement above and beyond that crime reporter that interview that the officer deputy may have with that victim. But this is what we did about two years ago. Noin the science that we have now the research that we have showing that strangulation is an extremely deadly form of abuse. San Diego Police Department along with all the other law enforcement agencies in the county including our prosecutors our medical professional as well as our dispatchers and medics all got together and started a working group to figure out how could we even enhance these lethality assessments or these questions that patrol officers can glean from at the scene. So we all decided to add a strangulation supplemental in addition to that DV supplemental so it sounds like it's an awful lot but it's just an extra set of questions that the officers and deputies can ask if that victim was strangled. Now apparently strangulation is something that women often fail to report if not specifically asked Why is that. It's a great question. It's one that we do have discussions and think about why aren't they saying it well we think it's because they're minimizing it because the general public does not understand how close to death they may have come because within five to 10 seconds of constant pressure on that juggler or carotid vein with just as little as four and a half to 11 pounds of pressure you can render your victim unconscious and within two to three minutes death can occur. Let's just say it was a female victim because men can be victims of strangulation as well. But let's just say for sake of the research mostly it's women that maybe they have a bloody nose or a black eye or they have physical signs of pain of another part of their body. They might not even think about disclosing that to the officer and the officer not intentionally not asking the question may not even think to ask it will now because of our county wide protocol that every agency in SINUA county has adopted. We are all agreed to ask that question was anything placed around your neck during the assault and then that triggers that secondary form. You talk about the attempted strangulation being more deadly than people or potentially deadly than people realize. I read that as female survivors of a non-fatal strangulation are 700 percent more likely to become a victim of homicide. That is a stunning statistic. It's a stunning statistic and we wish that more of our public would know that there's websites that people can visit but oftentimes they just don't think about that type of assault can actually possibly cause death because how does that abuser know when to stop. In the midst of that heated argument and there's so much anger going on. Power Control that's happening with the abuser and that abuser has their hands wrapped around the victim's neck. How do they know when to stop because it's within seconds that it could go from a survivable strangulation to death. So if a responding officer if the first responder finds out that indeed there was an attempted strangulation involved in a domestic violence assault what happens next. The first thing the officer deputy will do is when they respond is of course talk with the victim get first date to that victim as quickly as possible. If the abuser is still present on scene and there is probable cause they will make an arrest immediately if not our priority at that point is the victim. It's getting them the right to the emergency rooms and now because we had medical professionals with all of our local emergency room departments they were contributing factors to all of this technology and science and training. So not only were the medical doctors in emergency rooms trained but all of the medics that would respond to then transport that victim to the hospital. So it would make sure we have the victim taking care with medical aid and then obviously that case then goes to a detective for a follow up investigation and hopefully then tracking down the offender and making an arrest. And are there resources made available to the victim. Oh yes. We're very proud to have the Sandigo Family Justice Center in our county. It is a free resource to any man or woman who has been the victim of intimate partner violence. It's a free resource. They're open five days a week. I would encourage all of your listeners if they're not familiar with it to visit the Web site. Now the San Diego Police Department has been utilizing this assessment this two tiered assessment about strangulation for almost a year what have you seen as a result we've seen if nothing else there is a greater awareness when you are sharing these statistical facts with particularly women that are victims of domestic violence. But then on top of it when they disclose strangulation It's a sobering thing to tell them how close they came to dying and when they have a visible injury of a strangulation which might be bruising or it could be the capillaries Berstein around their eyes or you see you see some visible sign or they said yes I did have a raspy voice or yes I I did lose consciousness and I have now a little bit of memory loss. It really I think finally sends a message to them to get out of that relationship. I've been speaking with Lieutenant Misty said Drin former head of domestic violence at the San Diego Police Department. She now leads training for the Department. Lieutenant thank you. Thank you.

A new state law requires police in California receive more training in handling cases of domestic violence.

The bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown last week will make sure police are trained in making lethality assessments of domestic violence victims. That assessment can help determine which victims are at greatest risk of homicide, serious injury or re-assault.

San Diego police have gotten a head start in using the lethality assessments — they’ve been part of the department’s domestic violence response for almost a year.

Lt. Misty Cedrun now leads the leadership development unit at the San Diego Police Department, but previously helped the department implement these assessments in its domestic violence unit.

Cedrun said one of the key questions on the assessment is about strangulation, which is often underreported.

"Within 5 to 10 seconds of constant pressure on that jugular or that carotid vein with as little as 4.5 pounds to 11 pounds of pressure you can render your victim unconscious," Cedrun said. "And within 2 to 3 minutes death can occur."

Nearly 17,000 domestic violence incidents are reported to San Diego County law enforcement each year, according to the San Diego County District Attorney.

Cedrun joins Midday Edition on Tuesday to discuss how these assessments aid domestic violence victims.

By The Numbers

  • Nearly 17,000 domestic violence incidents are reported to San Diego County law enforcement each year, according to the San Diego County District Attorney.
  • Domestic violence was the second most frequent motive for homicide in San Diego County in 2015, the most recent year data was available. That's according to a report from the San Diego Association of Governments.

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