Lamar sees increase in domestic violence
Crime stats show rape also up, larceny down
TIM DOHERTY • AMERICAN STAFF WRITER TDOHERTY@HATTIESBURGAMERICAN.COM • SEPTEMBER 1, 2009
Often, it starts behind closed doors, with law enforcement officers arriving only after the fact.
Domestic assaults can not only be hard to predict, let alone avert, a confounding conundrum for those sworn to serve and protect.
"Domestic disturbances, we can't really prevent those," Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said. "We've seen an increase in domestic violence, and I don't know what you attribute that to. Can you blame it on the economy? I really don't know, and I wish I had an answer to that. There just seems to be a lot more short-tempered people out there."
Domestic arguments that turned violent have fueled a 16 percent rise in reported assaults in the county over the first seven months of 2009 when compared with the same period the previous year.
In 2008, deputies logged 240 assaults from January through July. This year, 278 assaults were reported during the same time period.
"From what we've seen, the majority, they are domestic," Rigel said. "It's not necessarily a lot of stranger-to-stranger."
Forcible rapes also rose in 2009, going from 17 in 2008 to 22 in 2009, a 30 percent jump. In many cases, those crimes shared a common thread with the assaults.
"It's situations where they knew the person, were at least acquainted with them," Rigel said.
Becky Sims, executive director of Family Abuse Family Shelter Inc., said the best thing that law enforcement can do to curtail domestic violence is make arrests.
"Make the abuser accountable," said Sims, whose organization serves 11 Pine Belt counties. "An arrest is humiliating. You get your name in the paper. You can lose your job, and that's real scary right now.
"If you make it worthwhile enough to the batterer, they can change their behavior."
When law enforcement can apply proactive measures, the results can be dramatic.
Larcenies, grand and petty, in Lamar County were down 62.2 percent during the first seven months of the year. For the same period in 2008, 241 larcenies were reported. This year, 91 larcenies were reported.
"To a certain extent, with thefts, you can do something to prevent those by saturating the areas where they are occurring," Rigel said. "We've tried to do that, and we've had some success with that."Technorati Tags: Crime,Stats,Increase,Domestic,Violence,Rape,Down,Larceny,vehicle,theft,article,Lamar,AMERICAN,STAFF,WRITER,HATTIESBURGAMERICAN,SEPTEMBER,Often,fact,conundrum,disturbances,Sheriff,Danny,Rigel,arguments,period,January,From,stranger,Forcible,cases,person,Becky,Sims,director,Abuse,Shelter,Make,abuser,organization,Pine,Belt,paper,behavior,measures,results,Larcenies,extent,robberies,burglaries,doors,officers,crimes,situations,thefts,areas,seven,monthsNote: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Battered Mothers Rights - A Human Rights Issue.