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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Police consider new approach to domestic violence

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Third in a series

Shelbyville's police department has set many goals for 2013, including a focus on the growing problem of domestic violence in the community.

The list of 17 goals from Chief Austin Swing joined ideas from other municipal departments that was requested by city manager Jay Johnson. The process of setting annual goals for each department was established by Johnson late last year.

Swing wishes to provide a safer environment for victims of domestic violence by implementing a new procedure in cooperation with the district attorney's office. Frequently, when officers arrive at the scene of violence, the alleged perpetrator is gone, and the department is putting together a new strategy to address this issue.

Johnson explained he examines the city's incident reports each week with Swing as to the types of crimes committed, and one number that jumps out at both men is the rise in domestic violence cases -- now averaging three calls per day, with more on the weekends and holidays.

"When they're off work and have beer, the numbers go up considerably," Johnson noted. "It's something the police department is really putting a focus on, and I applaud them for that."

School idea

Swing also stated in his goals that the department wants to look into programming their radios to frequencies of schools inside the Shelbyville city limits. The chief noted this was not a "knee jerk reaction," a probable reference to the Newtown,, Conn. shooting, and that the idea will have to be examined and evaluated first.

Maintaining the city's fleet of patrol vehicles by continuing to buy more cars is another goal, with Swing noting this has been an uphill battle over the years. A patrol car was totaled in a December accident in bad weather as an officer responded to an escape from the county jail.

Swing also stated that the inside of the department needs a face-lift. He said the there is worn out carpet in most of the building; new paint is needed and blinds need to be replaced. Johnson agreed, saying it would be a budget issue, one that he was glad the department brought up.

More manpower asked

It is hoped that another citizen's police academy will be held in 2013, with getting the word out to the public being the key, Swing suggested.

The chief is also looking at increasing the manpower of the criminal investigations division (CID), creating a additional detective position who would serve as a general investigator.

Another proactive idea would be to start a "flex unit" in the department, consisting of four officers to be deployed in high crime areas and parks during critical hours. That unit would battle drugs, gang activities, burglaries, robberies, and graffiti by working undercover with the CID. Swing has applied for grants to fund this concept over the past several years, but that effort has yielded no results.

Another goal is conducting a joint investigation with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and federal authorities into the rising number of illegal prescription drug diversions and methamphetamine in Shelbyville.

DUI crackdown

Swing also wants to remain proactive with law enforcement, pointing out that the city's DUI arrests are up at this time, adding there were 73 DUI arrested over the entire year of 2011.

The chief also wants to aggressively go after DUI offenders using available grants through the governor's Highway Safety Office, as well as supporting Sgt. Charles Merlo in his educating officers in proper enforcement methods.

The chief also hopes to finish a new storage unit in the rear of the department building by adding concrete, insulation and electrical connections and he also hopes that the department's new firing range will be fixed up with buildings and a fence.

In June, the council approved a five-year lease agreement with the county over the range, with the fence surrounding the property costing around $12,000.