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Crime In Quarantine: Dallas Police Department Sees Spike In Domestic Violence Amid Shutdown

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — This week's murder-suicide involving a 35-year-old mother and her 8-year-old daughter in Dallas began as a domestic violence call between the woman and her husband.

On Tuesday, the Dallas Police Department said it's all part of an increase officers have seen in domestic violence cases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lt. Pollyanna Ashford, who oversees DPD's domestic violence unit said, "It's alarming for me and it's alarming for the Dallas Police Department."

She said In February, DPD responded to 918 domestic violence calls.

In March, that number grew to 1,169 and in April, the number of calls rose to 1,202.

Department statistics show the number of domestic violence cases between February through April of this year was only slightly higher than during the same period last year.

Lt. Ashford said drugs, alcohol and arguments between spouses or those in a relationship are among the reasons for the offenses.

"One of the other got the phone and saw evidence of infidelity. We're seeing a lot of that. There may be some child custody issues or underlying reasons. Financial reasons."

Alex Piquero, a criminology professor at UT Dallas looked at the number of domestic violence cases at the Dallas Police Department.

He said the number of incidents rose 12.5% during the three weeks after the Dallas County stay-at-home order was put in place compared to the three weeks before the order was issued. "I think it's strongly associated with the stay at home order."

Professor Piquero said while he believes the Dallas County stay-at-home order saved lives during the pandemic, it has also led to what he called unfortunate and unintended consequences.

"That's a really strong number because there are not many other things going on that exact date that could have caused such a spike. When you are with someone for a long period of time without much of a way to break, people are going to feel strain. They're going to feel rage. They're going to feel a lot of negative emotions and they're going to lash out unfortunately at the people around them."

Before the pandemic arrived in North Texas, Lt. Ashford said her unit created the domestic violence warrant squad to target offenders.

Between February and April, she said the squad arrested 126 people and executed 215 warrants.

Through a public service announcement, DPD hopes to reach those who are in an abusive relationship to let them know help is available.

Lt. Ashford said, "There are many victims who for whatever reason feel that they don't have anyone who they can make an outcry to."

She advised people in this situation to have a plan of action.

"Have a bag packed with necessary documents, information about children, school records, a credit card and an extra cell phone so if you have to leave, you can."

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