HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Aaaaand they're off for the Houston Area Women's Center's run against domestic violence.They're raising money and awareness, but awareness is already on the rise at Houston Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney's Office. Today they sent that message to victims.
"It's not your fault. We will believe you. That if you call us we will take you seriously and most importantly if you call us you will get help," said Chief Art Acevedo.
They're backing up their words with policy change. From now on, when an HPD officer goes to a domestic violence call and they are not going to make an arrest, they will call a sergeant to the scene to review the case. Meanwhile, the DA's office will have attorneys standing by with a domestic violence checklist to make sure nothing is missed.
Truth be told, things have already been changing.
"On a five year arc we are filing more domestic violence cases than we have in the last five years," said DA Kim Ogg.
In 2016, they filed roughly 2,100 felony domestic violence cases. In 2017, the number soared to 2,900 Acevedo says over the last four years there has been a nine percent increase in reported domestic violence cases. That’s reported cases, but not necessarily actual cases.
"We know domestic violence happens and so often there's a number of incidents that are not reported to police and police are not called out," said Aly Jacobs with the Houston Area Women’s Shelter.
The Houston Police Officers' Union says this new policy will invariably lead to more arrests for an already understaffed department, but it takes less time and resources to make an arrest for domestic violence now than for a homicide later.
"Every arrest takes time. We are 1,500 to 2,000 officers short, but this is the job we have to do," said Joe Gamaldi
And sadly, there's job security. This is the 30th such run.