One year after Mayor Mitch Landrieu unveiled the city's latest strategy to combat domestic violence, New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Michael Harrison says the department has made significant progress in handling those cases.
Louisiana continues to rank among the worst states for domestic violence, particularly for women, according to annual reports from the Violence Policy Center using FBI crime data. The Blueprint for Safety initiative, supported by the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Violence Against Women (OVW), produced a dense, step-by-step procedural book for NOPD to respond to domestic violence calls "from the moment we receive a 911 call for help all the way to probation and parole," Harrison said Oct. 21.
"911 is available when they need it no matter how many times they've called in the past," Harrison added. According to NOPD's Unified Crime Reports, the department fielded 1,495 total assault cases in 2013 and 1,906 assault cases in 2014 — an increase of more than 27 percent. According to the city's 911 call log, there were 223 calls for service related to domestic aggravated assaults, 100 for domestic aggravated battery, and 50 calls for simple domestic assaults — but more than 3,300 for simple domestic battery. (Cases are marked as founded or unfounded, pending investigation, which may account for the number of total cases vs. total calls.)
Harrison said the most significant change in the department's reporting and assessment of domestic incidents is its electronic report filing system that automatically brings up a four-question risk assessment prompt for survivors and people involved on the scene. Those answers also are helpful to prosecutors and investigators, and the on-scene interactions are captured on officers' body cameras.