Pitt Co. taking the lead on domestic violence training; Focused on officer, victim safety

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — After one officer was killed and two others seriously injured in Virginia after responding to a domestic violence call, The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office says its increased attention and training in relation to domestic violence situations is warranted.

“There have been so many deaths here attributed to domestic violence over the years,” says Pitt County Sheriff’s Sergeant John Guard. “In fact, if you look statewide, about 25 percent of all homicides statewide are attributed to domestic violence.”

Pitt County Sheriff’s Office is addressing domestic violence and its deadly side effects head on.

“First and foremost is officer’s safety,” says Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks. “We have to make sure that they can get there and do their job. But not only that, we have to be trained from the call taker to dispatcher to the deputy arriving on the scene to be able to pick up on evidence whether it be verbal or something you see in the house. Things that indicate that a fight took place. This is an ongoing situation and we need to be more alert on the scene.”

Elk’s office has a task force that focuses specifically on domestic violence. The group helps train other agencies across the East and sets rules for how situations should be handled. This includes the number of officers that should respond to a domestic scene.

“Generally, you end up with three to four officers on the scene because you know that you have two people you’re having to break up a situation with,” says Elks. “A fight to get them separated, interview them separately, two different investigations.”

Sheriff Elks says officers that have a history with the family may also be called in to help elevate the situation more quickly. The Sheriff’s Office works closely with other agencies to review cases in the aftermath to identify signs of serious situations. These are then applied as tools to help first responders in the next domestic violence call.

“What we’re finding is even if law enforcement isn’t involved, there are always indicators,” says Guard. “That’s why there is such an urgent need to educate the community as well as law enforcement.”

The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office will be featured in a national training video focused on domestic violence calls. This video is scheduled to be shot in Greenville this week.

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