By Michael R. Gentry
Some of the most difficult calls for police officers to handle are cases of family violence.
The Harker Heights Police Department is working with other police agencies, prosecutors, health care organizations and social service providers to consolidate strategies to deal with cases of violence in the home.
Over the last year, the Bell County Family Violence Task Force has been created to include a multi-disciplinary approach to dealing with home violence. The task force meets regularly to assess needs and provide solutions for those requiring services that are available through Bell County organizations.
This dialogue has stimulated several efforts in Bell County to enhance responses and provide services. Among those is a grant award to the Bell County Attorney's Office under the leadership of the county attorney, Rick Miller, to provide specialized equipment to law enforcement agencies to aid in the investigation of these cases and to enhance the reporting process.
Representatives of the Bell County Attorney's Office have developed a comprehensive reporting process and provide training and equipment to law enforcement agencies throughout the month of December. Additionally, the task force developed a one-day conference in October wherein more than 125 police officers, social workers, health care providers and criminal justice professionals discussed multi-disciplinary responses to these cases. Planning is continuing on other innovative strategies through the efforts of the task force.
Recent headlines remind us that violence in the home is a critical issue for our communities. Victims of these attacks need every resource that can be made available to empower them to escape the violence, and perpetrators must be held accountable under law.
The home should be a place of solace and comfort for families. When it is a place of violence it tears at the very fiber of our society.
Help us break the dangerous cycles of abuse by reporting family violence when it is detected. If you are interested in participating in the task force, contact the Harker Heights Police Department or the Bell County Attorney's Office for further information.
Mike Gentry is chief of the Harker Heights Police Department.