Philly police step up outreach as domestic violence surges

(Facebook/Women Against Abuse)

(Facebook/Women Against Abuse)

Philadelphia police officials say they are stepping up prevention and outreach efforts as the city sees a more than 100% increase in the number of domestic violence-related murders this year.

“In 2020, there were a total of 18 domestic homicides in Philadelphia,” said Chief Inspector Altovise Love-Craighead. “So far this year, we have had a total of 19 domestic homicides in the city.”

Economic and social restrictions related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are likely fueling the violence and have also hampered the city’s usual outreach efforts, Love-Craighead said Wednesday during the city’s bi-weekly gun violence briefing.

“Community engagement is a crucial component to successful community policing,” she said. “Unfortunately, COVID has put a lot of restrictions on how we can engage with our community.”

As restrictions ease, she said the city will increase its outreach. The Philadelphia Police Department hosted webinars on domestic violence in March that have been viewed more than 20,000 times, Love-Craighead said. The department also partnered with Women Against Abuse to train detectives and frontline supervisors on trauma and best practice police response to domestic violence and sexual assault.

Azucena Ugarte, director of the city’s Office of Domestic Violence Strategies, said there are places victims can access some city resources for help:

  • The toll-free Philadelphia Domestic Violence hotline can be reached at 866-723-3014.
  • Women Against Abuse’s legal center can be reached at 215-686-7082. The group offers help with filing protection from abuse orders (PFAs) and child support.
  • PFAs can be filed with the city’s Family Court Domestic Violence Unit. The phone number is 215-686-6311, ext. 19217. The email address is TempPFA@courts.phila.gov. Court hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To file a same-day PFA, call before 12 p.m.

If you or someone you know has been affected by gun violence in Philadelphia, you can find grief support and resources here.

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