Every month, Fairfax County Police receive nearly 1,000 domestic calls for service and on average make more than 160 related arrests.
That information is listed in a new 2013 annual report prepared for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors by the Domestic Violence Prevention, Policy & Coordinating Council. The council, established by the Board of Supervisors in 2003, is a multidisciplinary group of senior-level public officials and community leaders. “This report, our first ever, highlights the state of domestic violence in Fairfax County as well as our coordinated efforts to prevent and respond to this violence in the county over the past year,” said Fairfax County Attorney and DVPPCC Chairman David P. Bobzien.
Statistics in the report are compiled from selected organizations. Both county government agencies and community nonprofit organizations all work to prevent and intervene in cases of domestic violence.
“This was our first attempt at getting all the different sectors to compile numbers,” said Fairfax County-Wide Domestic Violence Coordinator Sandy Bromley. “The issue of domestic violence in Fairfax County is even bigger than we can imagine. No one agency can address it alone.”
According to the 20-page report, domestic violence hotlines countywide receive almost 260 calls each month. Also on average each month, 65 domestic violence victims request family abuse protective orders, and 14 families escape to emergency domestic violence shelters.
“As domestic violence is the leading cause of homicide in our county, the importance of the timeliness, quality, and consistency of these interventions cannot be understated,” the report’s executive summary states. “Nor can the need for additional prevention efforts to break the cycle of domestic violence and prevent future generations from harm.”
According to a study released late last year by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services’ Criminal Justice Research Center, Fairfax County leads the region in domestic violence arrests.
That study — Domestic Violence in Virginia 2006-2010 — claimed that domestic violence arrests in Northern Virginia rose nearly 70 percent between 2006 and 2010. Arrests were most pronounced in Fairfax County, where they were up 306 percent during that five-year period.
Bromley believes the uptick in domestic violence arrests outlined by the Criminal Justice Research Center study is primarily attributable to the fact that beginning in 2007, each of Fairfax County’s eight district police stations was assigned a “domestic violence detective” whose primary focus is to investigate all domestic violence-related claims within their district.
“Before that, all domestic violence cases were centralized,” Bromley said. “By having domestic violence detectives localized at each district station, it enabled better training of patrol officers in each district and resulted in them being better educated to handle those issues within their own areas.”
According to Bromley, the 306 percent increase in Fairfax County domestic violence arrests outlined in the Criminal Justice Research Center study also is noteworthy for another reason.
“Despite the increase in arrests, statistically we know that less than half of victims actually contact law enforcement,” she said. “It is troubling to see the large amount of services being provided in Fairfax County and then contrast that to the domestic violence fatality reports where it shows how many victims never sought help. Anyone can call the Domestic and Sexual Violence Services hotline 24 hours a day and speak with a live person, at (703) 360-7273.”