SPD: Domestic calls rising in Spokane County, more women being arrested

SPOKANE, Wash. — Every minute, nearly 20 people are physically abused by their partners, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In Spokane County, the number of domestic violence calls have started to rise, as well as the need for help.

One survivor is using her past to help the future.

“I’m a survivor of dating violence and it just went from one bad situation to the next to the next to where I met a really dangerous man who almost took my life twice,” said Jenny Moeller, founder of Create Your Statement.

Moeller started the organization in 2012. She educates teens about dating violence.

“It’s a problem that we need to get a grip on and that’s why we are so passionate about reaching our youth with the education to really start bringing that dial down,” Moeller said.

The problem is hitting Spokane County hard.

“Something has happened that made it not safe anymore,” said Sgt. Jordan Ferguson with Spokane Police Department’s Domestic Violence Unit. “Safe to the point anymore where they want law enforcement to come in or a third-party witness has heard something or saw something.”

Ferguson said they normally get about 120 domestic violence calls a week. This number jumped to 160 two weeks ago and has since dropped to 140.

“We’re trying to figure out the why on that and it’s difficult because we know that less than half of our domestic violence incidents actually get reported to police,”Ferguson said.

They’re also worried about another alarming trend.

“The other thing that we’ve noticed is an uptick in the amount of women that are being arrested for domestic violence,” Ferguson said. “Pre-COVID, we were looking at 20% females being arrested [in domestic cases]. Post-COVID, it jumped up close to 40% for a couple months.”

It has since gone down to 30%, but still remains high.

“Is it the women finally fighting back?” Ferguson said. “Has she reached her breaking point or is it stress of being confined caused her to react and be the physical aggressor?”

Ferguson said the rise in domestic violence calls was around the time of the protests in downtown Spokane. Out of the four officers in the domestic violence unit, Ferguson said two were taken to help the department with the unrest.

“Our team is actively going out and contacting victims after we learned a domestic violence to make sure that they have resources,” he said. “Not all the victims got contacted and that’s where I think we had a bunch of it jump up.”

The officers also get in touch with those accused of the abuse. They explain the rules of a no-contact order, the process of a case and other procedures.

“So many things that if we can keep that momentum going, we can get domestic violence down to a known existent level, which is our goal,” Ferguson said.

The police department was selected this year by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court to participate in a new project. It’s the Firearms Technical Assistance Project. According to the website, it’s “a project designed to help communities implement policies, protocols, and promising practices to prevent abusers from having access to firearms in domestic violence cases.” Spokane is one of six cities selected.

He hopes to do this with the help of organizations like Moeller’s. He’s also teaming up with Minnesota researchers to help his unit interpret the data and figure out why there’s an uptick.

“Our focus is for prevention of dating abuse before they are a victim of domestic violence,” Moeller said.

Create Your Statement is trying to figure out a way to still educate middle and high school students about dating violence while students learn from home. Moeller is working with schools in Spokane and Mead. She has two classes, each designed for men and women.

Moeller said it’s not just about education, but also about promoting confidence, potential and more.

If you or someone you know needs help, there are resources.

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