Police see domestic violence-economy link

April 30, 2012 at 10:00 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 30 (UPI) -- Police are responding to more reports of domestic violence that is related to the U.S. economic malaise, a survey of law enforcement agencies indicated.

Fifty-six percent of 700 responding agencies said the economy is a factor in an increase in domestic conflict, up from 40 percent of agencies in a similar survey in 2010, results of a review by the Police Executive Research Forum indicated.

In Camden, N.J., for example, police responded to 9,100 domestic incidents in 2011, up from 7,500 calls in 2010.

Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson said it was "impossible" to disconnect the economy from the domestic violence reported in the city where unemployment is 19 percent, USA Today reported Monday.

"When stresses in the home increase because of unemployment and other hardships, domestic violence increases," Thomson said. "We see it on the street."

In Eugene, Ore., Police Chief Pete Kerns told USA Today increases in assaults coincided with the timing of the financial crisis and the slow recovery. In 2011, aggravated assaults rose to 234 from 188 in 2010 and there were 1,552 simple assaults, up from1,440 in 2010.

Chuck Wexler, executive director for the Washington-based law enforcement think tank, said police have expressed concern about the increased domestic violence-related calls for at least two years.

"You are dealing with households in which people have lost jobs or are in fear of losing their jobs," Wexler said. "That is an added stress that can push people to the breaking point."

Statistical information about the survey was unavailable.

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