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Domestic violence program celebrates 40th anniversary

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Published on: Tuesday, October 15, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

This year marked the 40th anniversary of the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault program at the Prince George’s Hospital Center, where members of the unit celebrated with the Prince George’s County Police Department.

Formed in 2010, the domestic violence portion of the hospital’s program was organized to address the heavy volume of victims coming through their doors.

“The statistics of an emergency room is about 40 percent of the women who come are victims of domestic violence,” said Mark Arsenault, Prince George’s Hospital Center vice president of community services. “It’s a much, much larger group of victims than sexual assault.”

Arsenault said the program has received special attention from Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who helped launch seven domestic violence programs throughout the state. In 2008, Brown’s cousin was killed in a domestic violence related incident.

This anniversary comes the same year that Prince George’s County police decided to beef up its fight against domestic crimes, centralizing its domestic violence efforts to one unit. Before July 28, the department had only one detective assigned to work on domestic violence cases at each district. With 12 detectives, Prince George’s County police hope this more streamlined approach will be more effective in battling domestic crimes.

“Since we’ve started on July 28, we’ve seen a lot of intimate partner domestic crimes, and that can be husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, or same-sex relationship,” said Sgt. Charmaine Harvin, Prince George’s County Police Department. “We are just now starting to track domestics … so that we can give it the attention it needs in efforts to hopefully decrease it or we at least educate the victim, so hopefully they can be a victim only one time.”

With 12 detectives, two sergeants and one lieutenant making up the new division, Harvin hopes to make a dent in domestic violence stats in Prince George’s County.

While domestic violence is prevalent throughout the county, Arsenault said a higher concentration of domestic violence incidents occur within the inner beltway area of the county.

The report also said that Prince George’s County has led the state in domestic-related deaths for the last five years.

Annually, the emergency rooms at Bowie Health Campus, Laurel Regional Hospital and Prince George’s Hospital Center treat approximately 250 sexual assault victims.

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