Brown also proposes ‘Blue in School’ to work with elementary kids
By: Julieta Chiquillo / Staff Writer
Originally published: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Dallas Police Chief David Brown urged dozens of parents, teens and children to report domestic violence during a “Chief on the Beat” community outreach event Saturday at Wilmer-Hutchins High School in southeast Dallas.
“We don’t want someone to suffer in silence in a domestic abuse situation,” Brown said. “So please step forward; be part of the solution.”
As part of a citywide initiative to combat a troubling surge of domestic violence deaths, the Dallas Police Department is in early talks with Dallas ISD to bring a program called “Blue in School” to elementary campuses.
The initiative is patterned after a program in which Dallas police once provided school resource officers to DISD. That service ended in the 1990s when the district launched its own police force, Brown said.
Because district police officers already are assigned in the secondary schools, the new program would use retired Dallas police officers and would focus on providing mentorship and crime prevention education to elementary students, Brown said.
“We’re finding that the earlier you can talk to a child about these difficult issues, the more aware they become as they become teenagers and young adults,” he said.
Under the program, which is in the planning stage, retired officers would rotate among Dallas ISD’s 155 elementary schools for a small financial incentive, Brown said. The department will seek private partnerships with philanthropies and other entities to find funding.
Representatives from more than 30 agencies and businesses lined the gym of the renovated Wilmer-Hutchins High School, where the chatter of police personnel, school officials and families blended with pop music and the tapping of heels during a performance by Martin Weiss Elementary’s Alpha Owls Step Team.
Dora Dowell, a case manager with Mosaic Family Services in Dallas, attended to talk about domestic violence. Aiding domestic violence victims is a personal mission for Dowell, who is a survivor of such abuse. She mostly handles cases involving other Hispanic women, many who are in the U.S. illegally and don’t know their rights or fear getting help.
“When they come to us, all they know is what they’ve grown up with,” she said. “So we work with culture – ‘You do what your man tells you to do and keep your mouth shut and don’t get involved.’”
A successful campaign to curb domestic violence must encourage all to take action, not only victims and advocates but also neighbors and people in all levels of the justice system, Dowell said.
“It’s important that we all work together, or someone is going to get killed,” she said.
The Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center and the Dallas police family violence unit handed out pamphlets and educational material.
Community outreach events offer some domestic violence victims a comfortable setting to approach police about information, said Sylvia Page, a family violence counselor with the department.
“Some of them choose to call us and respond,” Paige said. “For others, this is at least a step to let them know we’re here.”
Ranae Leonard attended Saturday with her 8- and 10-year-old daughters to learn about resources in their community. When the girls’ eyes danced to the moves of Wilmer-Hutchins High cheerleaders, Leonard said children should also be taught how to prevent domestic violence because some abusive behavior starts in junior high.
“It needs to be brought to light,” she said.
Counselors at the high school routinely visit classrooms to talk about issues such as domestic violence, teen pregnancy and bullying, principal Marlon Brooks said.
“We go to the students,” he said. “We don’t wait for them to come to us.”
Brown’s appeal to local families to report abusive situations – echoed Saturday by City Council member Tennell Atkins, who also attended – is among the chorus of pleas by local leaders, notably Mayor Mike Rawlings, to reduce domestic violence.
Rawlings has asked Brown to make serving domestic violence warrants a priority.
Dallas police reported 26 domestic violence slayings in 2012 compared with 10 the year before. At least four have been reported in Dallas and neighborhood cities so far this year.