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ICPD Trying to Curb Rising Domestic Violence
IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- Domestic abuse cases and charges are on the rise in Iowa City this year, and though the Iowa City Police Department is unsure as to why, they do have a unique way to help victims.
ICPD believes its full-time domestic violence investigator is just one of four in the state, and though the position has been in place since 1997 as funded by the Violence Against Women Act, those who help domestic abuse victims in the community say, they need the officer more than ever.
"That's probably the most special thing about Iowa City, there are only a few of me out there," said Scott Stevens, who serves as the current domestic violence investigator.
There are so few of him that Stevens said he has received calls from victims as far away as the Quad Cities who just happen to get his name from someone, and need help getting out of an abusive relationship. Stevens follows up with every victim, every time police respond to a domestic violence call.
"We may get a case that seems fairly common, (like a) verbal argument between two people, when I call, when I ask the question, 'Are you safe?' If I don't get an immediate, 'Yeah, everything's fine,' then I need to ask some more questions," Stevens said.
Stevens has been asking more questions these days. Iowa City typically typically respond to 300 to 400 domestic cases in a full calendar year. As of April 2014, officers had already responded to 200 cases.
"I think, historically, it's becoming more prevalent, and I think maybe it's just becoming more reported," said Lt. Michael Brotherton.
Stevens send many victims to the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, DVIP, whose women and children's shelter is almost always at capacity. Due to state budget cuts, DVIP now serves eight counties instead of its former four, and the time people can stay in the shelter has been cut in half, said client advocacy service coordinator Sarah Traeger.
"Programs in the state have had to be very creative, as far as, how do we still make sure that needs are being met? How can we still provide access to counseling, to advocacy, to shelter when it's needed?" Traeger said.
Despite that, both Traeger and Stevens want people to know, if they need help, they should call.
"Whether it's kid, money, transportation, we can work with that. We just need people to be safe," Stevens said.
Call DVIP's 24-hour hotline at 319.351.1043 or 800.373.1043 or visit dvipiowa.org.
Stevens encourages victims to sign up for Iowa VINE, a service that sends mobile alerts when an offender is let out of jail or prison. Call 888.742.8463 or visit vinelink.com for more information.