Connections for a safer, stronger community
Seeking to better understand and serve Champaign’s Northwest District, Lt. David Shaffer analyzed the data. What he found surprised and disturbed him. In 2012 Champaign police responded to over 1900 domestic disturbance calls, and over 500 of those calls came from Shaffer’s Northwest District. Even more troubling were the number of repeat offenders (three or more reports) on the list. He quickly realized, “I can’t arrest myself out of this problem.”
Shaffer’s response—now adopted across the Champaign Police Department—was to connect. He reached out to Courage Connection for resources on domestic violence and to educate his force about the dynamics of domestic violence and how to respond appropriately. He reached out to the States Attorney’s office to learn how officers could better document domestic violence incidents in order to make charges stick. Shaffer’s officers distributed information on DV resources throughout the community so that victims and concerned family and friends would know where to turn for help. The Champaign Police Department conducted community education fairs and produced billboards to raise awareness of domestic violence.
In June 2013, Shaffer’s district implemented new procedures for responding to domestic disturbance calls. Officers identified repeat offenders and worked to document the crime scene in better detail, providing the States Attorney with vital evidence. Officers encouraged victims to press charges and worked with victims to make sure they were referred for shelter, counseling, and court advocacy services. In the first year, an uptick in the number of reports wasn’t a surprise. As Shaffer explains, when officers encourage victims to report and to press charges, the numbers go up. But in 2014, incidents are down 7% year-to-date, a decrease Shaffer attributes to greater intervention with repeat offenders and greater outreach with the community.
Urbana and Champaign County police are implementing procedures similar to those developed by Shaffer and the Champaign Police Department. Courage Connection applauds the efforts of local law enforcement to make Champaign-Urbana a safer, stronger community.