Prince George's County police say there have already been 13 domestic-related killings in the county in 2013. News4 Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins explains how police are reorganizing their domestic violence unit to investigate and prevent those kinds of cases.
Police have officers specially trained to handle domestic violence cases, and following several domestic homicides this year Prince George's County is reorganizing its domestic violence unit.
Thursday morning’s homicide-suicide involving a woman and her estranged husband was the 13th domestic-related killing in Prince George’s County this year, and for the past five years, Prince George’s County has led Maryland in domestic-related deaths.
"I think that we are taking a proactive approach to try and address this issue," said Capt. Genia Reeves, who leads the Prince George’s County police domestic violence unit.
Currently one officer in each district around the county specializes in domestic cases. Soon that will change, and those detectives will come together in one unit at police headquarters.
"What we’re doing now is centralizing all domestic violence investigations under one umbrella, which will be the criminal investigations unit," Reeves said.
Police hope that by reorganizing the unit they can get a better handle on cases and prevention.
"A lot of women won’t seek out services, counseling or shelter, but they come to the hospital because they are injured or have a baby, and we screen 100 percent of our patients to see if they feel safe at home," said Karalyn Mulligan, the domestic violence coordinator with Prince George’s Hospital Center, where they, too, are taking a proactive approach to try to prevent the escalation of domestic abuse.
If patients are considered to be at high risk, they will discuss options with them, including police intervention if necessary. The potential severity of these issues are often a shock for the victims.
Follow Tracee Wilkins on Twitter at @traceewilkins