DARIEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The role police officers have played in preventing domestic violence has changed over the years, turning from reactive to proactive.
“Typically, I would say 10 to 15 years ago, 20 years ago, domestic violence calls were something you’d handle in the home,” said Capt. Alison Hudyma, with the Darien Police Department. “Sometimes, officers would say, ‘Let’s all calm down,’ walk away, and ‘If we come back, there’s gonna be arrests made.'”
One in four women and one in seven men will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime, according to state advocates. Domestic violence reports also increased during the pandemic.
Police departments are now adopting a new approach.
“Over time, we’ve changed our response,” Hudyma said. “We work with domestic violence advocates. We try to get victims in the system to understand the red flags involved with domestic violence, and we can help them before it gets to anything violence.”
Those calls can also be extremely dangerous for law enforcement. That’s why Hudyma said two officers will usually respond.
“Domestic violence calls are one of the scariest calls officers can go on,” Hudyma said. “It’s fueled by love, hate, rage.”
Once police arrive, she said officers will quickly approach to see if a victim is in danger. She said officers aren’t always sure who the offender is, so they’ll separate the parties to get their stories, and independently investigate each accusation to determine who the primary aggressor is.
Resources for victims are available online. The state’s domestic violence hotline can be reached at (888) 774-2900.