Domestic Violence Task Force Helps Protect Victims in Independence County

INDEPENDENCE COUNTY, AR -- Last week domestic violence resulted in the deaths of six people here in Region 8.  There are things that several departments in Region 8 are doing differently to help prevent these type of situations from happening more often.

"We started in 2001 with four officers.  We started on a state grant," said Sgt. Michael Mundy of the Independence County Sheriff's Department.

Independence is one of eight counties in Arkansas that have a domestic violence task force.  The Searcy Police Department and the Stone County Sheriff's Department are the other two in the area.  Over the past six years officers feel like they've made a difference.

"We feel like we're making some headway, but as a whole in the state we have a problem," said Mundy.

There hasn't been a domestic violence homicide in the past two years, but calls keep coming in.

"We've responded to 70 to 80 calls somewhere in the month alone.  We actually have 21 cases we've done investigations on," said Mundy.

The 21st call of June happened while we were there.  One man was arrested in Newark and charged with third degree domestic battery.  This is just one of the over 200 cases for 2007.

"We've cut the number of repeat offenders by more than 70%," said Mundy.

The reason for the decrease -- the support of the community.

"We work hand and hand in hand with prosecutors and with family violence prevention and other departments through the state," said Mundy.

The domestic violence task force helps enforce orders of protection, helps secure family violence counseling for agressors and victims, and helps get victims out of the situation.

"This past year we did push for several different bills to get passed.  I myself went down and testified before the legislature," said Mundy.

One of the bills he helped work on is to get the time span for orders of protection expanded.  They can now be up to ten years in length.  Another bill makes it a class "a" misdemeanor for anyone who is charged with trying to take a telephone from someone who is trying to call for help.  The third bill

would put the responsibility on the officer to figure out who the agressor is so the victim is not victimized again.

"We may not stop domestic violence in my lifetime but it won't be from a lack of trying.  We're really pushing to make a difference," said Mundy.

Sgt. Michael Mundy also teaches at the Black River Technical College Law Enforcement Academy.  He will be teaching an advanced class on fighting domestic violence in July.