Newport News, Va. (WAVY)– The Newport News police department is moving into 2020 with a new approach to help empower survivors of domestic violence.
Police Chief Steve Drew created a position called a domestic violence specialist or advocate.
The crime rate is down in the city with the exception of domestic violence. There have been 81 more domestic reports this year with at least four domestic-related homicides.
“On crime [and] even on overdoses, I can look at a map and plot strategies around that. I can’t plot domestic violence. It happens in all neighborhoods. [Including] All races, black, white, Hispanic, rich, middle class, poverty-stricken, neighborhoods that have challenges, and faith [based communites]. It does not discriminate. So, I have got to find a better way,” explained Chief Drew.
The spike in relationship violence led to a partnership with the Transitions Shelter, a non-profit organization, committed to helping families rebuild after a toxic relationship.
However, the number of reports is still going up.
The specialist will work closely with victims and even assist with the court process.
“We need to be out in the community talking to people… giving people role models,” he explained. “Sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone who is not wearing a uniform. I understand that.”
The specialist will travel to other departments in the country like in Chicago with similar positions.
“I plan to send some officers to those departments to see how they do it. Then mold it to fit what we need and have here in Newport News,” he said.
Drew tells Ten On Your Side the City manager, Mayor and city council all agree there is a need. The Department was awarded a $450,000 grant from the Department of Justice. The grant will last up to three years.
“This is important to me. I am committed to it. I have structured our department to find better ways to address it. Now it’s just a matter of getting the right people in to push things forward,” he said.
The department will announce the specialist in 2020.
Here are some local and national resources for victims in need of help.
YWCA South Hampton Roads in Norfolk
- Phone: 757-625-4248
- Offers counseling, youth, and crisis services.
- 24-hour Crisis Hotline: 757-251-0144
Avalon Center in Williamsburg
- Phone: 757-258-5022
- Offers transitional housing, emergency shelter, youth services, legal advice, and counseling.
- 24-hour Crisis Hotline: 757- 258-5051
Samaritan House Inc. in Virginia Beach
- Phone: 757-631-0710
- Offers counseling, emergency shelter placement, and safety planning.
- 24-hour Crisis Hotline 757-430-2120
HER Shelter in Portsmouth
- Phone: 757-485-1445
- Offers emergency services, court assistance, shelter, employment, housing assistance.
- Hotline: 757-485-3384
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1−800−799−7233