DOMESTIC VIOLENCE UNIT
Information for domestic violence VICTIMS
(206) 684-0330 Monday - FRIDAY 8am - 5pm
Domestic Violence Unit personnel conduct follow-up investigations based on police reports completed by patrol officers. They can provide you with information regarding the status of your case to include if the case has been assigned to a detective, if an advocate will be assigned and if a felony or misdemeanor charges will be filed. If possible, please provide the police incident report number for easier reference when calling.
THE HISTORY OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW
Domestic violence situations pose particularly complex challenges for law enforcement. For a variety of reasons stemming from fear, dependence, embarrassment or self-blame, many domestic violence victims fail to report abuse, to take preventative measures, or to follow up on actions against the perpetrators. Until the 1980s, police responding to domestic violence scenes handled them with mediation and informal warnings, but after a 1984 Minneapolis study showed that arrests of abusers led to a significant drop in post-charge violence, state laws were changed to make arrests mandatory for domestic violence assaults. After the law was changed, the Department went from 386 domestic violence arrests in 1984 to an average of 2,700 per year.
THE SEATTLE POLICE DEPARTMENT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE UNIT
The Seattle Police Department established its Domestic Violence Unit in 1994, with a focus on both victim safety and offender accountability. Since then it has been a regional and national leader in the law enforcement community in developing innovative approaches and responses to domestic violence. Through dedicating internal resources and securing external grant funding, the Department has consistently been on the cutting edge of domestic violence issues and re-assesses its response to the problem frequently.
Over the last decade, the Department has developed specialized expertise in the areas of stalking, elder abuse, custodial interference, and abuse in the homeless and sexual minority communities. Recognizing the correlation between domestic violence and animal abuse, the DV Unit established a partnership with Animal Control to ensure mutual notification of discovered abuse. VST and all precincts have animal carriers to remove animals from situations as needed. Animal control will keep these animals free of charge for up to two weeks.
Partnerships have also been created with the victim outreach community, local hospitals, prosecutive agencies and business communities. One very successful partnership effort is through the Victim Support Team (VST) program that works directly with citizen volunteers. VST volunteers work as a team of two and are trained to respond after a domestic violence scene has been secured to provide crisis intervention, and emergency resources referrals to domestic violence victims. Through VST, the Department created the Safety Inn program to provide hotel and motel rooms to victims when shelters are full, and a partnership with Verizon Wireless recycles donated cellphones programmed to have immediate access to emergency hotlines.
In 2005 the Department worked with the Municipal Court and the City Attorney’s Office to implement a Domestic Violence Firearms Project, increasing police officers attention to firearms at the scene of a domestic violence incident.