Prince George’s County Police officials say domestic violence unit helping victims -- Gazette.Net


Yvette Cade of Suitland was at work Oct. 10, 2005, when her estranged husband stormed in, doused her in gasoline and set her on fire.

“It destroyed my life,” said Cade, who suffered third-degree burns all over her body, breaking into tears while speaking at an Oct. 16 press conference in Hyattsville.

Prince George’s County officials announced efforts to protect victims like Cade and increase domestic violence prevention throughout the county.

County public safety, state’s attorney and executive officials held the joint news conference to talk about resources for domestic violence victims in Prince George’s County, highlighting the 2-1-1 hotline that can connect domestic violence victims to services such as shelter, food and other needs, as part of the county’s “Stop the Silence” campaign, which was started as part of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The 2-1-1 hotline is a national, 24-hour, seven-days-a-week service operated by different parent agencies. Prince George’s County’s parent agency is Community Crisis Services, Inc.

County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) said raising awareness about this hotline, which has been in service for about 10 years, helps families know where to seek aid before domestic violence escalates into greater issues such as homicide or severe attacks like what happened to Cade.

“That’s what this is about,” Baker said at the conference. “This is a religious issue. A family issue. A moral issue.”

Cade had sought protection from her estranged husband through a protection order, but her request to maintain that order was denied by a judge. She said during the conference that a voice inside her told her ‘she can’t do it alone,’ and if she would have known about 2-1-1 during her abuse she may have used the service. Cade’s estranged husband was sentenced to life in prison in 2006.

Officials also discussed the county’s police domestic violence unit, which was started July 28. The unit features 15 investigators who handle felony cases and track all domestic violence in the county, said Lt. Charmaine Harvin, the county police domestic violence unit commander.

The unit was created to have specialized detectives who can investigate felony domestic violence cases, monitor repeat offenders and help victims get away from dangerous situations, Harvin said.

“The whole idea is to attack the violence in the household,” Harvin said.

In 2012, 13,046 incidents of domestic violence were recorded in Prince George’s and as of Oct. 10, 2013, 8,681 incidents had been recorded this year, according to county police data. While the data looks like it may be on track to be lower this year, Harvin said she wouldn’t speculate if that would be the case.

The 2-1-1- hotline isn’t specifically for domestic violence calls, but for a variety of services for those in need, such as homeless seeking shelter, said Timothy Jansen the executive director of Community Crisis Services Inc.

However, domestic violence victims can use the service so this conference is an effort to raise awareness for those in need, Jansen said. It coexists with 9-1-1 because that number is typically associated with immediate, life-threatening incidents, where 2-1-1 can help someone who may not be in immediate danger, but does want to connect with a shelter or other domestic violence service, he said.

“It’s about connecting to resources that are appropriate and available,” Jansen said. “If I reach out, I will get some help in a way that helps.”