King County has prosecuted about 20% more domestic violence cases this year and the Prosecutor’s Office credits a new team of detectives in the King County Sheriff’s Office. A little more than a year ago the Sheriff’s Office brought back the domestic violence unit, and that decision is leading to positive results across the county.
In 2009, due to budget cuts, the DV unit was eliminated and since then, it was a priority for King County Sheriff John Urquhart to bring it back.
“Domestic violence is really an insidious crime and it certainly affects not only families and spouses, but kids as well and it deserves the specialty of detectives that really understand the dynamics of a domestic violence situation and have the time to do the investigations,” Sheriff Urquhart said.
“In the past when we didn’t have DV unit detectives out of each precinct who were working a huge case load of things that we generally call property crimes. Car prowls, burglaries, malicious mischief, those sorts of things,” Detective Robin Ostrum said. “So when you combine a huge case load of property crimes and you ask those detectives to take on a case load of domestic violence cases that are coming in everyday, eventually something is going to get pushed to the back burner.”
Ostrum is one of two detectives in the unit now solely dedicated to domestic violence investigations.
“Because we had the time to focus on those cases, get them dealt with appropriately, and charge them it was very nice to hear that they were hearing a large upswing in felony prosecutions,” Ostrum said. “I don’t want statistics to tell me that almost two million women a year are being victims of domestic violence. That almost a million children are witnessing domestic violence. And then that’s having future implications on their lives going forward. I would rather that we collectively work to greatly reduce those numbers.”
“It’s not just a situation where we want to have the suspects charged, but we also want to help the victim’s and see if we can’t get them out of that situation or give them the support or services they need to make a better life for themselves,” Sheriff Urquhart said. “This is a really insidious crime that destroys families, destroys kids, and we need to help. The government, and the police department, the sheriff’s office in particular needs to help families and that’s what we try to do. This is not just about putting people in jail, it’s about helping families as well, and this is the way to do it.”
Sheriff Urquhart said if you are a victim of domestic violence in an emergency situation, please call 911 immediately. Otherwise he says feel free to reach out to his office and an investigator can come to you at an agreed upon location, or you can walk in to a precinct and they can assist you there.