LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Law Enforcement leaders say domestic violence calls can be so dangerous for responding officers because the emotion behind them makes them so unpredictable.
Lieutenant Larry King with the Lee County Sheriff's Office says they've received a little less than 800 domestic violence calls for service so far this year. He says, "these are very unpredictable calls, fed by a lot of variables, depending on whether weapons are involved, a physical altercation, or other factors."
He says calls like the one that took the life of Charlotte County Sgt. Michael Wilson Saturday night are so unpredictable because deputies don't know what to expect. "Domestic violence because of the nature of the call is a very volatile situation and one where more than one deputy is usually going. You're dealing with a situation where people's emotions are already ramped up and by the time we're on scene. Sometimes it will diffuse the situation, other times it will escalate the situation because they don't want the police presence."
Just last week, Lee County deputies responded to a domestic situation in Bonita Springs. A deputy shot and killed an armed Donna Weaver, after repeated demands to put her gun down. King says, "the fact that we've had two incidents in SWFL that have turned very violent to the extreme, it's just an example of what we have to deal with everyday and what people have to deal with everyday."
He adds, "there's no doubt that emotion is the key factor, there can be other factors too, like custody issues or alcohol or drug abuse. We can't become complacent and just think its another domestic call, because it's not."
Christine Kobie at the Fort Myers Abuse, Counseling, and Treatment center sees all too often what happens when someone doesn't get out of a dangerous situation. She says, "it's more common than people understand because people don't go around talking about it so much, it's kind of the hush-hush crime."
She says the situations are unpredictable. "We don't know how an abuser is going to respond. It's all about power and control and when they feel their power and control has been taken, that's when they'll act out. Law enforcement never knows what they're going to get when they get there, if the abusive person is going to be settled down by the time they get there or try to manipulate law enforcement to make it the victim's fault."
She says if you are in an abusaive relationship, don't be afraid to get help. "They need to stop ignoring the warning signs, stop thinking it's going to get better. Most victims stay because they hope things will change and they will change, but they get worse."
For more information about ACT, visit http://www.actabuse.com.