Posted: Apr 9, 2020 / 03:17 PM EDT / Updated: Apr 9, 2020 / 08:21 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – IMPD Officer Breann Leath was shot and killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic disturbance call on the city’s east side Thursday afternoon.
Police were called to the 1800 block of Edinburge Square, which is just southwest of 21st Street and North Franklin Road, around 2:50 p.m. for a domestic disturbance. When officers arrived at the apartment, someone inside fired shots. Leath and a woman inside the home were hit by gunfire. Leath died at the hospital. “She heard the call and went toward that which could do her harm because she knew if she didn’t, harm may come to others,” Mayor Hogsett said. Leath, 24, was a lifelong Indianapolis resident, and she wanted to be a police officer ever since she was a child. She was a graduate of Southport High School, and she served in the Army National Guard before joining IMPD two-and-a-half years ago. She was the mother of a young son.
Leath grew up in a law enforcement family—-her dad is a deputy sheriff and her mother is a control operator with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said, “She is the example of the type of officer we want on this department.”
Taylor said a suspect is in custody, and the other woman who was shot suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Gov. Holcomb shared the following statement regarding Leath’s death:
“Officer Leath gave her life as she answered the call of duty. Janet and I are heartbroken for her family, friends and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. I ask every Hoosier to join me in honoring Officer Leath’s courageous service and dedication to her community. She will be forever remembered for being the finest among us.”
Perry Township Schools released the following statement:
“We are heartbroken to learn that Officer Breann Leath lost her life in the line of duty.
Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, many of whom have bravely served our community for years.
We are thankful for their courage, as well as the courage of every law enforcement officer who serves and pro
By Zach Klein
The verge of a domestic violence crisis
National media outlets reported this week that experts are concerned about a range of secondary issues beyond those caused directly by the coronavirus. One that’s particularly troubling is the dramatic spike in domestic violence.
That concern is real.
In 2019, Columbus saw 7 domestic violence-related homicides. Yet just last month in March alone we had 3. Equally troubling: We had over 60 domestic violence arrests.
Here are a few things you can do to help:
Share this email with at least five friends
Share the National Domestic Violence Hotline ( 800-799-7233 )
Check in on your friends -- especially those who may be in abusive relationships
Those living in an abusive relationship must know that hope is not lost. Despite state lockdowns due to the coronavirus, resources are still available to those in need 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.
In Columbus, our unique domestic violence and stalking unit remains open and accessible, prepared to help victims, and work with police and prosecutors to hold violent offenders accountable.
Of course, if anyone is in immediate danger of harm, never hesitate to call 911.
Friend, it’s clear that the anxiety associated with this virus crisis, coupled with quarantines and lockdowns, can make an already unstable relationship turn violent. Domestic violence victims are now more isolated, households are under more stress, and everyone’s locked down and locked in together.
Shelter-in-place messaging, which is critical to slow the spread of this virus, can create a dangerous atmosphere for victims. But it doesn’t have to be - hope and help are readily available. Spread the word that no one needs to live in or endure an abusive relationship, even during this pandemic.
Help us slow the spread of coronavirus and blunt the spike in domestic violence.
Domestic Violence in the coronavirus era
People who are forced to self-isolate or follow mandated shelter-in-place orders, are at risk of being trapped in abusive and coercive situations, isolated from the human and other resources that could help them. The pandemic has sapped victims’ outlets for relief: running errands, speaking with counselors, visiting friends. It has shattered exit plans that some victims have spent months developing. The services designed to support even the most isolated of these victims are struggling to help from a distance. And the deluge of stress and fear of unemployment, of sickness, of death, is intensifying the abuse they face.
Domestic violence will likely increase in social isolation
In many nations, communities are already reporting higher call volumes to local domestic violence resources. In China reports of domestic violence have surged since people have been confined to their homes. In some areas, calls to police stations have increased threefold compared to the same period last year. Support services in Australia reported an increase in coronavirus-related family abuse. In Italy and Germany women’s groups are already sounding the alarm. Meanwhile nine people have died in a string of domestic killings as Britain entered its second week under the coronavirus quarantine according the Daily Mail of March 30, 2020. In the United States the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) reports that a growing number of callers say that their abusers are using COVID-19 as a means of further isolating them from their friends and family. “Perpetrators are threatening to throw their victims out on the street so they get sick,” Katie Ray-Jones, NDVH CEO told TIME Magazine. “We’ve heard of some withholding financial resources or medical assistance.”
In New York’s Nassau County, domestic violence incidents are already up 10% compared to this time last year, while the Cincinnati-based organization Women Helping Women is receiving 30% more calls now since self-isolation started.
In Trinidad & Tobago the Victim and Witness Support Unit (VWSU) of the police force says it has been preparing for the anticipated increases in domestic violence, as the next few weeks sees the country locked down during the Stay at Home order announced by the Government. According to the T&T Guardian of March 31, over the last ten days, the VWSU has assisted 48 victims across the nation. While there has been no information about other Caribbean nations one hopes that measures are being considered, if not already in place, to deal with expected upsurge in domestic violence.
Stress heightens the likelihood for violence
Domestic violence cases spike in times of prolonged stress and disruption, like financial crises and natural disasters. During the current pandemic, some of that stress has driven people to firearms dealers and liquor stores in a number of countries. Abusers often use firearms to frighten victims, but mere possession of a firearm by an abuser, makes it five times more likely that a victim will be killed, according to the US based Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Global unemployment has been rising astronomically. A 2013 study reported that as unemployment rates rise, so do dangerous drinking behaviors. And the World Health Organization said evidence suggests that excessive alcohol consumption worsens the severity and frequency of domestic violence.
The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has also plunged people into financial insecurity, potentially trapping them in abusive situations. Without a stable income, it is much more difficult for victims to leave violent partners and protect themselves and their dependents. Health concerns and job losses also add pressure, causing some people to experience abuse for the first time.
“My husband won’t let me leave the house,” a victim told a representative of the US NDVH over the phone. “He’s had flu-like symptoms and blames keeping me here on not wanting to infect others or bringing something like COVID-19 home. But I feel like it’s just an attempt to isolate me.“ Her abuser has threatened to throw her out onto the street if she starts coughing. She fears that if she leaves the house, her husband will lock her out.
“I spoke to a female caller in California that is self-quarantining,” a US NDVH advocate wrote in the organization’s logbook. “Her partner strangled her tonight. While talking to her, it sounded like she has some really serious injuries. She is scared to go to the ER due to fear around catching COVID-19.”
So what can be done?
Safety tips to people who are at risk, including keeping mobile phones charged and, if a partner becomes violent, try to avoid the kitchen, garage or anywhere that might have potential weapons.
For victims who don’t have access to websites, the phone or other people, friends, coworkers or neighbors should reach out to them and advocate on their behalf. Print out resources. Call a hotline. If they are co-workers, seek them out under the guise of a work matter and ask how they’re doing. Listen rather than responding right away.
Activists groups such as the UK’s Women’s Aid are advocating that safety advice and planning for those experiencing domestic abuse should be included in the national government recommendations on COVID-19. The emergency restrictions set out in the U.K.’s Health Protection Regulations 2020 state that no person may leave the place they are living except under certain circumstances, including to “avoid injury or illness or to escape the risk of harm.” This means that people fleeing violent or coercive domestic situations, will not be targeted by the police. At a minimum this allowance needs to be global.
The United Nations Women has also called for governments to provide packages for paid sick leave and unpaid care work, in order to allow women facing domestic violence to maintain financial independence from their abusers. This is certainly a measure that should be given global consideration.
Domestic violence advocates say that victims who are not yet in quarantine status should seek help now. Meanwhile, domestic violence organizations like the US NDVH are developing new strategies to support victims under lockdown. Ray-Jones says digital contact with victims will be very important during this time but that it will be difficult for victims to call while at home with their abusers. The hotline does offer services via online chat or texting, making it easier for victims to seek out help while at home. In fact digital contact is an option for all victims and potential victims with online access.
The US National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has advocated that survivors be included as a vulnerable population in federal coronavirus stimulus legislation. Other nations should consider doing so as well. The YWCA in the US, meanwhile, is urging Americans who can afford it to donate to its emergency fund as well as to local shelters, whether that’s money or in-kind donations. In fact wherever shelters and emergency funds exist citizens are urged to give what they can.
As well The Caribbean Voice (TCV) suggests that social media users pay special attention to language that may indicate abused victims are reaching out. Once such alerts are identified please contact the necessary service providers whether governmental or NGOs such as TCV. In times like these everyone must become partners in efforts to help those who may be suffering from abuse in any and all forms.