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Lewes, Delaware
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September 13, 1996     Cape Gazette
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September 13, 1996
 

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dt4 -CAPE GAZETYE, Friday, September 13.- SeptemberA9,1996 Cape Region tragedy spurs massive domestic violence training Delaware first state in nation to implement special program By Kerry Kester In response to a tragedy that struck a Milton family on June 8, Delaware government officials have renewed their commitment to place domestic violence as a priority, for both law enforcement and human services agencies, through its implementation of a new training program for law en- forcement supervisors. The training program is the first in the nation to use federal fuM- ing from the Violence Against Women Act for the purpose of in- creasing awareness and technical skill for emergency personnel who confront domestic violence. Three hundred law enforcement supervisors from both municipal police departments and the Delaware State Police will partic- ipate in six two-day sessions that will be held throughout the state. Experts from national, state and local levels will present seminars addressing the issues associated with domestic violence. Included in the training will be such issues as the nature, scope and sequence of domestic vio- lence, followed by seminars on victim services; laws; the dis- patch, response, investigation, documentation and arrest proce- dures; preparing a case for trial; probation and parole; and other is- sues. Funding for the training program will come from a $64,000 Violence Against Women Act's Services-Training- Officers-Prosecution (STOP) fed- eral grant. Lessons from tragedy Although domestic violence has long been of interest to politicians and police in Delaware, when Tamara Wiers, 27, was murdered by her estranged husband, James "Chris" Wiers, 28, who also killed Tamara's mother, Elizabeth Mill- man, and then himself, officials strengthened their resolve to im- plement even tighter measures to assure the safety of those caught in the domestic violence cycle. "I still get a sickening feeling in my stomach when I recall the night I heard about the death of Tamara Wiers and her mother," said Gee. Tom Carper on Mon- day, Sept. 9 when he joined Sen. Joe Biden and others at the Delaware State Police Academy in Dover to announce the new training program. "'Each year, six million women are beaten by their husbands or boyfriends," said Carper, noting that children often stand by and watch the violence unfold before them. "Tragedy has taught us some hard lessons," he said. Carper announced Friday, Aug. 30 that the state has implemented or will implement a dozen new procedural changes in the 911 sys- tem. He said on Monday that the state wants to assure that "when there is a threat as there was to Tammy, we respond quickly." To assure that, he said, it is nec- essary for law enforcement offi- cials to have "meaningful train- ing" that would teach them the best methods for diffusing situa- tions while retaining optimal safe- ty for all those involved, including police. "It's not an easy thing to do," he said, but added that he be- lieves it is something that "will save a lot of people a lot of heartache in the years to come." Carper issued an executive or- der in February of 1995 to create the Violence Against Women Act Implementation Committee, which was instrumental in devel- oping the new training program. In May of 1995, Carper signed the bill that qualified Delaware for $426,000 from the federal funding umbrella under which the new training program falls. Carper also signed a domestic violence bill package sponsored by Sen. Patricia Blevins (D- Elsmere) in July of 1993. That package was aimed at curbing do- mestic violence through victim protection laws, stiffer laws for perpetrators, and increased train- ing for state attorneys. Law enforcement key Biden said at the conference that Delaware is the fast state in the nation to use the federal fund- ing provided by the Violence Against Women Act, enacted in 1994 as part of the Biden Crime Bill package, for the purpose of training emergency personnel. The effort to initiate the program was a collaboration between law enforcement agencies, human ser- vices agencies such as hospitals, victim services and others, as well as governmental agencies such as the Attorney General's office. Biden said when police officers receive a domestic call, 'q'hat's the last place you want to go...al- ways, there is confusion." Usual- ly, he said, there are drugs and al- cohol. The calls simply are not as clear-cut as those for a bank rob- bery, for example, said Biden. 'q'his is not that simple. It's more complicated; it's more danger- ous," he said. The new training program, he said, will enhance the "thinking related to domestic violence. There is no margin for error here." Biden said in an interview that the thinking to which he referred is that which is reflected in studies and research that indicates many people - of all ages, both genders, all races and mixed ethnicity - have certain tolerance levels for domestic violence, and he be- lieves no level of tolerance is ac- ceptable. Paramedics By Kerry Kester Sussex County Emergency Medical Services Paramedic Unit 104 has moved from its temporary home at Airport Motel on Rt. 1 to its new home in Colonial East Mobile Home Park. The move will increase response time as well as save money for the county. According to George Torbert, Sussex County Emergency Med- ical Services operations manager, when the unit moved from its Five Points location near the Rt. 1 and Rt. 9 intersection to its temporary home at the motel, the average re- spouse time dropped two minutes. According to Larry Rock, a paramedic with Unit 104, the lack of a traffic light where the station was located slowed down the unit's response time. "At times, we'd be waiting there for minutes - waiting for traffic to let us in," said Rock. At the motel, he said, the unit relocate to better serve Cape Region could access both north and south lanes on Rt. 1, there was less of a problem with traffic, so the re- sponse time improved. But the new location, he said, is even bet- ter. The new location, "is actually saving us time. It's helping us get out a lot quicker," said Rock. "Now we're geographically centralized," said Lars Granholm, paramedic. The unit's southern boundary is the Indian River Inlet Bridge, with its northern boundary ending at Rt. 16 and its western limit near the Holly Lake area on Rt. 24. Granholm said the new location is closer to both fire districts that Unit 104 serves - the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company and the Lewes Volunteer Fire De- partment. Since paramedics work closely with private ambulance companies and those affiliated with fire departments, Granholm said it will help improve services to be closer to each. Like ambulance attendants, paramedics are trained to provide basic life support. However, the bulk of their work is in providing advanced life support services to patients and making pharmaco- logical interventions. The para- medics meet ambulances at calls, initiate treatment, then ambu- lances provide transportation to medical facilities. The medics also travel in the ambulances when needed to con- tinue treatment. Each unit is staffed with two medics, so if one is in route with a patient, the other can remain on call. Additionally, in cases such as an accident where there is more than one victim, both medics can begin treatment. Granholm said that the move to a more centralized location has had an unexpected benefit as well. "Coincidentally, we just happen to Continued on page 20 Kerry Kestw photo Sen. Joe Biden Oeft) and Delaware State Police Superinten- dent CoL Alan Ellingsworth received a round of applause as they announced to the public on Monday, Sept. 9 that Delaware is the first state in the nation to implement a pro- gram using funding from the Violence Against Women Act, which paased in 1994. Delaware will use some of ira funding to provide a program involving a cellaborative effort between several state agencies, with a key component berg special- ized training for law enforcement supervisors in both munie- pal and the state police agencies. "When there is a protection or- der, then you stay away. Period," said Biden, adding that the next step is to bring the perpetrator to justice. Biden praised police for being the ones "to step into this void where angels have feared to tread." "Delaware is not unlike many other areas of the country," said Delaware State Police Superinten- dent Col. Alan Ellingsworth. "The incidence of domestic vio- lence is on the increase, not only in numbers but in severity. In- creased training...is just one of the many steps to be taken. It will un- doubtedly enhance our efforts tremendously." What is important to the state police, said Ellingsworth, is "han- dling domestic violence com- plaints properly the fast time and every time. We are very excited about this training." In addition to the training amongst law enforcement agen- cies and officials, Attorney Gen- eral Jane Brady said her office is also engaging in conducting train- ing seminars for the clergy. Some of that training, she said, will be conducted by speakers from the National College of District Attor- neys. Biden wants more Biden said in an interview that although he is elated with the progress Delaware is making in its efforts to reduce domestic vio- lence rates and improve safety for those caught in the domestic vio- lence web, there is much more on his agenda. A new arrest policy, for exam- ple, is something on which he is currently working. One idea he is pursuing, he said, came from Seattle, Wash., where first time offenders are arrested. "You will see a change," he said, "with the fast guy who beats up his wife." In Seattle, he said, after the policy was implemented, "the incidence of domestic violence dropped 38 percent." Needed for such a change, Biden explained, is a more sophis- ticated computerized system. An increased victim services program would also be a plus - including providing a victim's advocate for a woman who may have been hos- pitalized as a result of the violent act. Statistics show that the time women are most inclined to take action against a perpetrator is im- mediately following an incident, said Biden. The typical abused woman syndrome shows women losing their courage to pursue prosecution as time elapses. An intensified victim services pro- gram, said Biden, could help women keep their resolve to break the abusive cycle. Another change Biden would like to see is tighter interpretation and enforcement of Protection From Abuse orders (PFAs). He said that historically if a perpetra- tor was accused of violating a PFA, before any prosecution oc- curred, an investigation would be conducted to try to determine if perhaps the contact violation may have been "accidental." "Men use that as intimidation," said Biden. In Massachusetts, he said, a law was passed where there were no acceptable circumstances for violating an order with a prox- imity restriction. The violators were simply arrested. Biden said he would like to see such a law enacted in Delaware - a "zero tol- erance" concept, per se. "The courts have been very co- operative," he said, so he believes there is hope of seeing such a change come to Delaware. "You're still not going to get them all. Some of these cases are in- credibly complicated," said Biden. "Maybe it will only save one woman." But saving even one woman, he said, is an accept- able goal.