Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and the head of Dallas' Domestic Violence Task Force, Dallas City Council member Jennifer Gates, have paid a lot of attention to domestic violence. For all of that, the city still has a gaping hole when it comes to the care and resources that are available to victims after they suffer abuse.
Friday, the task force released its now-annual report on domestic violence in Dallas. Accorded to data collected by the Institute for Urban Policy Research at the University of Texas at Dallas, more than 10,000 men, women and children were turned away from Dallas shelters over the past year due to a lack of space.
That's a 34 percent increase from the task force's last report covering 2014-2015. Shelters turned away 1,200 people during September 2015 alone, the report said.
Denise Paquette Boots, one of the UT-Dallas professors who authored the report, acknowledged that Dallas shelters lacked space, but she did praise the city's shelters for coordinating with each other to at least identify that there is a problem. "Dallas has a unique coordinated response team. You all support each other," she said of the shelters.
The Dallas Police Department made more than 7,000 domestic violence arrests during the period the report covers — from June 2015 to May 2016 — but that represents just a small fraction of the more than 15,000 domestic violence calls the department received over the same time period.
In 2016 alone, the department had received 11,361 calls related to family violence, according to numbers obtained by the Observer. Just under 9,000 of those cases have been reported as cleared or closed by DPD. Thirty-four women, according to the report, were killed by domestic partners. The fact that none of these had contact with police beforehand suggest that there is outreach needed to help enable women to leave abusive situations, according to Boots.
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At a Friday city hall press conference, Gates worried that police response to domestic violence could take a hit from the retirement of police chief David Brown and changes in patrol policies that have seen several detectives transferred out of the domestic violence unit.
Rawlings devoted much of his time at the press conference to praising Trent Kreslins, a University of Oklahoma student who was beaten up badly in Uptown after he tried to stop a man from roughing up a female companion. When Kreslins, who suffers from a disorder called McCune-Albright syndrome that makes his bones fragile, stepped in, the man and his friends knocked him to the ground, breaking his nose and giving him a concussion. Kreslins' face still bore the scars of the assault as he was feted Friday, and Rawlings praised him as an example for all men.
"Never, never, ever hit a woman" Rawlings said. "This is not just a women's issue it's a men's issue."