Oklahoma implements statewide domestic violence tool for police
BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- Oklahoma ranks third in the nation in the number of deaths attributed to domestic violence. Now, state officials are taking action against the abuse by providing police officers with a new tool. This new tool is actually a questionnaire -- a series of eleven questions designed to help social workers understand a victim's situation faster and hopefully provide help faster.
It's has already been adopted by police in Oklahoma City and Tulsa and soon it’ll be available statewide.
"This is a major problem in Oklahoma, it continues to grow bigger and bigger", said Carla Tate with the Department of Human Services in Bryan County.
Tate says 85 percent of all family issues reported to them involve domestic violence. She says there are many contributing factors.
"A lot of substance abuse, mental health,” she said, “there's lots of reasons that are underlying problems, a lot of it's financial. When people get stressed, you can only take so much then there's some point of breaking and a lot times its financial problems."
State officials are implementing a new tool for police officers investigating claims of domestic violence. It's a questionnaire that asks victims eleven questions about their abuse. But some local police departments have had their own systems in force.
Durant Police tells KTEN for many years they've been using what they call their 'risk and danger assessment'. This list for victims actually includes a total of 20 questions.
But Tate says the best way to end abuse starts with the people in the community.
"Be more aware,” Tate said, “report. Oklahoma has a law that if you suspect child abuse, you're a mandatory reporter."
Warning signs to look out for are unexplained bruises in friends and co-workers or they make up excuses that don't add up.
"We've had families that the husband will call the wives up at work,” said Tate, “numerous times, just to make sure she's there. Or he's there. And that is something else we've seen on the rise. It's not always the male, it could be the victim as well as the female."
The new procedures will allow police officers to refer victims to local shelters, intervention programs and other social services. The new law goes into effect on November 1.