HPD Family Violence Unit sees job become more dangerous, thanks Union For its continuing support

Tom Kennedy, Editor

The Thank-You note the HPD Family Violence Unit sent the Union during October Domestic Violence Awareness Month was well-received and certainly a gracious show of appreciation for the cooperation amongst Houston police officers.

And we have to point out that the kind words expressed by Lt. Kira Webster also served to remind us of the effectiveness of one of the most oft-needed units within the Department.

Just what, you might ask, has the unit done for the citizens of Houston lately?

Lt. Webster supplied us with the answers.

So far this year the HPD has received 23,927 reports of domestic violence, filed 4,801 charges and made 4,668 arrests. Eighteen percent of all Homicides are Family Violence Homicides and so far this year HPD had 35 Family Violence Homicides.

The Department implemented Policy and Training related to the on-scene investigation of domestic violence and specifically domestic violence Strangulation cases. As a result of HPD patrol officers’ commitment to victims of domestic violence in the year 2017 to 2018, HPD had a 44 percent increase in arrests and charges in domestic violence cases and a 40 percent increase in Strangulation (Aggravated Assault-Impeding breath cases). That increase means 2,312 domestic violence suspects were being held accountable.

These statistics might make the processing of family violence cases sound like it’s getting easier. Not! Officer safety is being stressed in HPD like never before.

Again, Lt. Webster makes the necessary points. Officer safety responding to domestic violence calls for service is one of the most volatile and dangerous situations for police officers.  They lead to 14 percent of officer deaths each year in the United States, according to the FBI. The Texas Department of Public Safety reported that 206 Texas law officers were assaulted in 2015 (the latest statistical year of record) while responding to family violence incidents.

When responding to domestic violence calls for service remember to maintain officer safety, be cognizant that anyone on the scene could pose a threat.

The Union has supported the Family Violence Unit in many ways. The lieutenant cited a record all of our members can be proud of. “The Union, she said, “has allowed us to have domestic violence meetings and trainings at the Union Building, provided us with t-shirts and walking in the Houston Area Women’s Center Fun Run in the past.”

Lt. Webster offered us a “huge thank you” for the help.

And we, in turn, remind the lieutenant and her hard-working crew to be careful out there as they continue the dangerous job of dealing with a dangerous family violence problem common not just in Houston but the rest of our nation as well.