About the Domestic Violence Unit
The KPD Domestic Violence Unit was established in January 1997 with federal funding from a S.T.O.P grant. The Unit was created with the recognition that family violence is most often not an isolated event; only with a concentrated approach that targets swift intervention, offender accountability, and victim education can the Knoxville Police Department be successful in interrupting the cycle of violence that plagues victims of domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Unit provides comprehensive victim services to persons in abusive relationships. The Domestic Violence Unit operates with a dual approach, offering investigation and crisis intervention through victim services.
The Unit is made up of professionals that provide specialized interventions, including:
The Unit currently operates a case management system that is unlike any other in the U.S. This computer system allows the Unit to store information on victim history, suspect history, contact information, and referral information. This allows the user to see the complete history and past actions taken by the Unit staff and the parties involved to effectively access, intervene, and provide services that fit the needs of the parties involved.
The Domestic Violence Unit is breaking the mold of “response only” law enforcement, and going beyond to examine trends, profiles, and the needs of families in our community. Family violence affects people of all economic strata, employment settings, children, and public safety. The Knoxville Police Department has created a Unit that strives to assist victims of violence and keep people in our community safe.
During 1998, federal funding from the Violence Against Women Act solidified services and key personnel of the Domestic Violence Unit.
During 2000 the Domestic Violence Unit investigators and counselors have responded to 2,649 incidents of domestic violence and intervened to provide assistance with warrants and Orders of Protection to victims of domestic violence. Additionally, counselors have provided valuable crisis intervention services to victims that had been involved in volatile and life-threatening situations. Advocates from the YWCA housed in the Domestic Violence Unit have followed up on 5,000 cases. The Domestic Violence Unit has been able to intervene with victims when the cycle of violence first begins.
The ultimate goal of the advocates, counselors, and investigators is to provide services early and prevent future violence in the home. They work to ensure victim safety, hold offenders accountable, and work to establish a voice in the community that calls domestic violence a crime. Community accountability and education has been accomplished by joining with area service providers, agencies, schools, the courts, and the business community to form the Community Coalition on Family Violence. The Knoxville Police Department has acted as the facilitator in a project aimed to provide the community with a single phone number to call for information regarding domestic violence. The Help-line is an effort that required extensive collaboration and commitment by all parties to see it through.
The Domestic Violence Unit provides comprehensive services to domestic violence victims while investigating criminal offenses to hold offenders accountable. The unit provides multiple-case services ranging from safety planning and Order of Protection assistance to case analysis, research, and preparation for prosecution. The Domestic Violence Unit continues to provide early and swift intervention to prevent future violence. The unit responded to 1,567 cases of domestic abuse in 2002.
In 2002, the Domestic Violence Unit trained over 7,100 persons (including new officers, community agencies, professional organizations, youth groups, and Knoxville citizens) on the issues of domestic violence and the services that the unit provides. As a long-standing member of the Community Coalition on Family Violence, the Domestic Violence Unit participates both at the general assembly meetings and on the governing board.
In recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October 2002), the unit hosted its second annual “Family Fall Festival” that involved over 30 community agencies and had an attendance of over 2,000 people. This festival targeted family health issues including domestic violence. Due the Domestic Violence Unit’s notoriety, unit members have been invited to train at several events such as the Knoxville Bar Association’s conference entitled “Domestic Violence, It is Your Business” and the Tennessee Society of Health Care Social Worker’s seminar entitled “Living and Surviving in a Violent World.”
Since the goal of the Domestic Violence Unit is to make families safer, the domestic violence investigators have been cross-trained with the juvenile investigators to create a more holistic approach to family violence. In addition, personnel within both units have helped initiative and sustain a joint effort between the Knoxville Police Department, The Community Coalition on Family Violence and the Department of Children Services to develop protocol on how to better intervene in families where there is partner and child abuse occurring. These efforts to work together with child service agencies are an example of the new approach that the unit is taking to decreasing violence in the home and increase safety for our adult and child victims of family violence.