City council considering adding on a full-time domestic violence specialist
YAKIMA, Wash.- Domestic violence has been a key topic of discussion for city council members. It's an issue that City Councilwoman Dulce Gutierrez says can be improved when it comes to the way victims and witnesses are interacting with law enforcement.
"Domestic violence is the number one violent crime in the city of Yakima. It's an alarming issue and it's one that doesn't receive as much attention as it deserves," said Gutierrez.
City council has discussed hiring a domestic violence liaison, a person that would work closely with law enforcement, all organizations that work with domestic violence, and guide victims throughout their court cases.
Statistics from the Yakima Police Department reveal that within the last four years, the number of domestic violence cases are slowly decreasing.
But even though the number is dropping, Yakima rates are more than double the average for other cities across Washington.
Gutierrez says the county has three or more victim advocates for domestic violence and the city has none.
"Yakima would be in a much better place when dealing with domestic violence if it had it's own in house resource. At this time it doesn't, and so victims of domestic violence under the misdemeanor level of crime are not provided the resources if they would be if they were a victim of a felony," said Gutierrez.
Executive Director at YWCA Cheri Kilty says adding another person to work closely with domestic violence victims in our area will be a huge gain for the community.
"If we are teaching our children how to solve conflicts, how to cope with their own emotions in a way that escalates to abuse then it's worth every effort to try and make and impact in that," said Kilty.