Authorities offer safety tips after violent attacks on women - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Authorities offer safety tips after violent attacks on women

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BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Within a week, the Independence County Sheriff's Department investigated two violent attacks against women.

The frequency of these incidents has surprised even veteran officers, and now they hope what's happened will remind people to stay safe.

Investigators say the two crimes may be random and unrelated, but add that the incidents show violence can happen to anyone at any time. That's why officers and others say it's important for people to be prepared.

"The world we live in today, I think everybody needs to have it at least in the back of their head," Lt. Mike Mundy with the Independence County Sheriff's Department said, "what can I do to make myself safer?"

More people should ask themselves that question, Lt. Mundy said, given the two violent incidents that deputies have investigated within days of each other in Batesville.

"Both of our victims fared very well," he said. "Our first victim is one of the most courageous women I think I've ever met in my life."

Last week, sheriff's deputies arrested Jeremiah Childers, who allegedly forced his way into that woman's home and then kidnapped her.

Lt. Mundy said officers are still trying to develop a suspect in the second case, which involved an unknown man hitting a woman with a gun in her driveway and taking her purse.

Patty Duncan, the executive director of Family Violence Prevention in Batesville, says these incidents – though random – should remind people even outside her town that preparedness is key.

"My concern," Duncan said, "is that people are not preparing themselves for the what-ifs.

"Violence," she added, "it does not discriminate against age, race, social status, financial income – it doesn't matter."

In addition to always staying aware of their surroundings, she says there are a few things that people should do to better protect themselves.

For instance when someone is outdoors, she advises them to never go places alone. Instead, she says, travel with friends and family and park in well-lit areas or under a streetlight.

"If you're going to the grocery store or if you're going to the gas station, park under a streetlight," she said. "That way, it's going to give you a visual on those that are around your vehicle and will also hopefully be a deterrent for those that may want to come and attack you."

She suggests people should also keep their car keys in their hand so that they can quickly set off the panic alarm if needed.

"Those [car alarms] accidentally go off all the time," Duncan said, "but if somebody comes around your car that's not supposed to be there, that may be a deterrent to make them leave that area."

Lt. Mundy recommends that safety tip, too, adding: "When people are fixing to do harm or they know they're fixing to break the law, they don't want attention. They don't want any lights, so anything like that has a tendency [to scare them away]."

Duncan also stresses that it's helpful to share a code word with neighbors, friends and family in case of an emergency. This is one trick, she says, that she encourages all the domestic abuse victims that she works with to do as well.

If someone wants to set up a code-word system, Duncan said use "something that you can say just in casual conversation or you can send in a text message to your friend or your neighbor that lets them know you need help, to call 911 or to come where you are…That can be huge in letting someone know that you need help."

For Duncan she claims sharing any of these tips no matter they are is crucial.

"I think if one person will get the information and you'll share it with one person," she said, "it goes a long way."

Police also urge anyone that feels threatened or sees something suspicious in their neighborhood to call and report what's happening immediately.

Duncan says people can also call the Family Violence Prevention's 24-hour hotline for additional assistance. That number is 870-793-4011.

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