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Archive for Friday, July 20, 2007

New unit to focus on domestic violence

July 20, 2007

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A new program announced by Attorney General Paul Morrison on Thursday seeks to stamp out domestic violence through awareness and education.

A domestic violence unit will help train law enforcement officers on how to best handle investigations and will assist prosecutors on specific cases, said Ashley Anstaett, the attorney general's office spokeswoman. The unit also will concentrate on strengthening the state's domestic abuse laws and, already, it has added new resources to its Web site, www.ksag.org.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office plans to send deputies to training once it's offered.

"We are also interested in any opportunity to participate in a 'train the trainer' element, if offered, to make possible the training of more officers," said Lt. Kari Wempe, Douglas County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

Deputies currently undergo domestic violence training at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, the department's mini-academy and during in-service training.

Jacqie Spradling, the unit's lead domestic violence prosecutor, led the domestic violence unit under Morrison when he was Johnson County district attorney. Phill Kline, current Johnson County district attorney who replaced Morrison, fired Spradling in April.

"I've always thought he had a well-run program," said Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson. "(The unit) is going to hopefully make us a little more proactive."

Sarah Terwelp, executive director of Women's Transitional Care Services in Lawrence, hopes the new unit will stop what can often be a chronic cycle of violence.

"Communities always struggle with having enough support to provide that safety net ... while (a victim) is working with law enforcement and the district attorney's office," Terwelp said. "Strengthening the support system for survivors can play a role in holding abuser accountable."

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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