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Domestic Disturbance Calls Among Most Dangerous Situations For Officers, Former NYPD Detective Says

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Domestic disturbance calls are among of the most common, and also the most dangerous, calls officers respond to, as we saw just days ago when two officers were shot in Harlem and later died.

In 2020, police responded to 199,534 911 calls for domestic and family disputes and assaults. In 2021, they responded to 189,735 calls.

Police believe numbers were higher in 2020 due to pandemic-related lockdowns.

CBS2's Natalie Duddridge looked into the nature of these calls with former NYPD detective and hostage negotiator Dr. Alfred Titus.

"I'm sure they would've never walked down that hallway had they known that there was a possibility that the individual had weapons in that room," Titus said.

Titus, who is now a criminal justice professor at John Jay College, says when 22-year-old Officer Jason Rivera and 27-year-old Officer Wilbert Mora got a routine call Friday night from a mother saying she had problem with her son, Lashawn McNeil, there was no indication there were guns inside the apartment on West 135th Street or the NYPD response would have been much different.

"There would've been a lot more officers that would have responded, if not [Emergency Service Unit], maybe even hostage negotiations," Titus said.

In this case, Rivera, who had just over a year on the job, and Mora, four years, were training a rookie cop when they responded.

Titus says it's normal for officers with this level of experience to take this kind of call despite the danger.

"I would say that domestic violence issues are the second most dangerous situation for an officer. The first would be your car stop. As you know, we don't know what we're walking up to when an individual pulls over. We don't know what's in the car, what they have. It's the same type of situation with the domestic violence," he said.

Titus says there are ways to make it safer for officers responding to domestic calls.

"Is there a weapon involved? What's the situation? Does the 911 operator hear yelling and screaming in the background while the call is being bad? We need to know all of these type of things before we even go into an apartment," he said.

Having as much information as possible can be the difference between life and death.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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