Pilot project targets past family violence offenders

AUSTIN (AP/KXAN) — Austin police are focusing more on some past offenders in a pilot project that’s aimed at ultimately preventing future domestic violence.

Two officers are tasked with serving family violence warrants that would otherwise fall to patrol officers or another department. The designated officers will coordinate with the family violence unit to respond to violations police normally wouldn’t investigate, such as a person failing to charge an ankle monitor.

People under the project’s scrutiny have been arrested on a family violence charge in the past two years. So far 20 people have been arrested. Officers have also responded to 18 suspected violations of court orders and 16 violations of bail conditions. The pilot project will end in September.

GOING IN-DEPTH // Domestic Abuse Calls

  • 2011: 13,719 calls, 3,482 arrests
  • 2012: 9,384 calls, 3,353 arrests
  • 2013: 9,851 calls, 3,303 arrests

The Texas Advocacy Project is also working to fight the ongoing problem.

“A woman will enter a family violence shelter between 7-9 times before she’s able to make a final break and leave her batterer permanently,” Executive Director Heather Bellino said.

This non-profit organization provides free legal services to victims of domestic violence such as getting a protective order against someone.

“People may say a protective order is just a piece of paper, but 80 percent of the time it helps you not be re-victimized,” Bellino says.

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Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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