Hamil Harris- The Washington Post- In the stillness of night, from Rockville to Upper Marlboro, sheriff’s deputies are responding to the calls of people being beaten and killed by those who say they love them.
In Upper Marlboro recently, Prince George’s County law enforcement, judges and elected leaders marked the beginning of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month by lighting the county administration building in purple and talking about the issue.
“Domestic violence destroys families,” Prince George’s County Sheriff Melvin High said. “It influences the growth and development of our children and our future. We want to get to zero incidents.”
The sheriff’s office, which is responsible for serving protective orders, has become one of the lead agencies in dealing with domestic violence in the county. Last year, the department launched the “Purple Light Nights” campaign to bring attention to a growing problem. In 2014, 21 percent of all domestic violence cases reported in Maryland were in Prince George’s, and last year 19 county residents lost their lives in domestic violence incidents.
The program in Upper Marlboro started on a reverent note. “Father, we ask you to help us use our resources wisely to represent all members of our community,” said Peggy Maclin, a minister and the wife of Anthony G. Maclin, pastor of the Sanctuary at Kingdom Square in Capitol Heights.
“As the purple lights shine throughout Prince George’s County,” she said, “let the light in our hearts shine brighter as we stand against domestic violence. We speak against it, we come against it and we determine to end it.”
In Montgomery County, Thomas Manion, acting director of the Family Justice Center in Rockville, said that program is an extension of the sheriff’s office and has many partners in the county working on the issue of domestic violence.
“The FJC is a one-stop shop that provides wraparound services to victims of domestic violence and their families in Montgomery County,” Manion said.
The center offers free services to domestic violence victims, including comprehensive safety planning, assistance with obtaining a protective order, assistance with criminal investigation/prosecution, therapy services for adults and children and career counseling.
“This is an issue that is absolutely killing our community, and we have to make sure that we use every resource available to make sure that our children don’t repeat this cycle generation after generation,” Prince George’s State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks said. “It needs to end now.”
Col. Darrin C. Palmer, chief assistant sheriff in Prince George’s, said the department served more than 17,000 peace and protective orders in the county last year. He said the lighting ceremony was important because “as communities, it is important to get things out in the open where it can be dealt with.”
Palmer said that the sheriff’s office has advocates who follow up on every domestic violence call.
“They reach out to victims to say, ‘How can we help you?’ ” Palmer said. “Housing is a big issue. We try to help people find a place to stay.”
Anthony L. Ayers, chief of the Capitol Heights Police Department, said his officers wear purple shirts year-round, have a patrol car designated for domestic violence calls and make it a priority to talk to young people about the issue long before they start dating.
“The reason why we have to address the problem of domestic violence at the school level is because we have to start somewhere,” said Ayers, who attends many events with his wife. “We have to show them what healthy relationships are supposed to look like.”
Sydney J. Harrison, clerk of Prince George’s County Circuit Court, listened from a distance during the program outside the county administration building.
“This strikes home. My birth mother experienced domestic violence,” said Harrison, who was adopted.
“I was the product of a domestic violence situation while she was hitchhiking and homeless and living on the street when she was 16,” Harrison said. “We have to educate each other about domestic violence to teach these kids the appropriate way to behave.”
To view original article, click here: In Maryland, dealing with the violence of love.
Posted on October 9, 2015 at 8:17 pm