ROCKFORD (WREX) – In the first half of 2018, four people were killed in Rockford due to domestic violence. In the first half of 2019, that number has dropped to only one.
“I’m very grateful that the women and men in our community who are at risk for a lethal end to an interpersonal relationship are for whatever reason avoiding it,” says Jennifer Cacciapaglia who leads Rockford’s Mayor’s Office on Combating Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking.
While this news is incredibly welcome to both the city and Rockford Police Department, both agencies say they’re holding their breath it holds.
“I think a lot of it has to be attributed to luck,” says Rockford Police Lieutenant Kurt Whisenand.
These local experts say domestic violence continues to happen across the city at an alarming rate.
“When you look at our Lethality Assesment Protocol numbers and see that so many of our survivors are at high risk of being killed, and so many of them are being strangled it’s really remarkable we have as few as we do this year. I’m just very grateful we are avoiding that outcome,” says Cacciapgalia.
The Lethality Assesment Protocol, or LAP, is a questionairre police officers in Rockford use when responding to a call where there’s a potential for domestic violence. Officers say the tests reveal an ugly truth about what’s happening behind closed doors.
“In the first year and a half of the LAP program there’s over 5,700 LAP sheets that have been completed by the Rockford Police Department and the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office,” says Lt. Whisenand. “58% of those scored at a high risk for becoming a victim of an intimate partner homicide. So that’s an alarming number that’s over 3,000 potential victims in the countyy who we’ve identified.”
Whisenand adds that over 50% of those surveyed also confirmed their partner had threatened to kill either them or their children. So with such a high number of people battling to navigate their way safely trhough these relationships, Rockford Police say it’s on all of us to help.
“This is not an issue that’s a woman issue,” says Lt. Whisenand. “This is not an issue that’s only on the victim’s. This is a community issue. This is an issue for men. This is a learned behavior so it’s what we’re teaching our young men how to treat their intimate partners, it’s what we’re teaching on relationships and about conflict resolution. So it’s really on the entire community.”
If you are looking for help escaping a potentially dangerous relationship, there are a number of services in town including the Rockford Office on Combating Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking. Remedies Renewing Lives has a 24 hour domestic violence hotline at 815.962.6102.