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Chattanooga ramps up efforts to combat domestic violence

Last week marked the official opening of the Family Justice Center here in Chattanooga. For those unfamiliar with the center, it is designed to provide victims of domestic violence with easy access to everything from medical assistance to legal counseling under a single roof.

Constructed using both city and federal funds, the center has already announced its plans to launch an awareness campaign in the fall, and monitor the monthly crime reports in Hamilton County such that outreach efforts can be adjusted accordingly if there is no increase in domestic violence arrests.

In keeping with these efforts, the Chattanooga Police Department has also announced that officers in at least one city district will be testing out a new domestic violence enforcement tool that, if effective, will likely be expanded to cover the rest of the city.

The enforcement tool in question is known as a “lethality assessment” form that officers will be required to complete when responding to calls about a possible domestic violence incident.

The form is essentially a checklist that officials say is capable of identifying those situations where domestic violence is likely reoccur, with the idea being to provide men and women with recognition that they might be in danger.

Indeed, officers are instructed to put people who earn high scores on the assessment in contact with an official from the Family Justice Center while at the scene.

What all of this serves to underscore is that law enforcement officials not just here in Chattanooga, but across Hamilton County, have become even more serious about cracking down on both domestic aggravated assault and domestic simple assault.

While this is certainly laudable, it’s still important that they don’t perhaps become overzealous in their enforcement efforts, as an unsubstantiated and unnecessary arrest can have a significant impact on an otherwise innocent person’s freedom, reputation and future. 

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CBA | Chattanooga Bar Association
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