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Domestic violence officer helps victims: Domestic Violence Awareness Month column

5:29 PM, Oct. 25, 2013  |  Comments
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Domestic violence does not have a neighborhood, a social class, a race or a religion. Domestic violence can occur any time and anywhere. In 2012, there were 338 arrests related to domestic violence cases in the city of Wausau.

My name is Ofcr. Robert Wilcox and I am the current domestic violence officer for the Wausau Police Department. In the spring of 2009, our department started a Domestic Abuse Response Team, or DART. The officers were all volunteers. Besides their regular patrol duties, officers would follow up on certain domestic abuse cases. Criteria were developed to determine which cases qualified for DART. This would include felony cases or where threats to injure or kill a victim were involved. Our goal is make face-to-face contact with victims to increase their sense of safety and to offer them services.

In 2010, our department was awarded a grant to fund a full-time domestic violence officer. Ofcr. Nathan Pekarske initially filled this position and I started my term in July 2012. We still maintain patrol officers as part of DART to assist in some of the follow-up on cases.

Having an officer in this position has been beneficial to moving DART forward. As the full-time officer, I am able to review all domestic cases for our department. I can then determine if the report qualifies as a DART case or needs specific follow-up. Other members of DART include an advocate from The Women's Community and attorneys from the district attorney's office. Any officer or member of DART can request a follow-up visit on our cases. Because I review all cases, I am able to see any trends that are occurring with domestic violence cases and address them in a timely fashion. I am able to see if there is a specific training need for officers in our department relative to the domestic cases we are seeing.

I also am able to educate the community on domestic violence. I have given presentations to different community groups, civic groups, pastoral groups and schools. I think it is important for these groups to be informed, because they may be the first ones that become aware of a domestic situation.

If you believe domestic violence is occuring, call 715-261-1200 to report these incidents. Callers can remain anonymous.

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