In their recent release of the annual Fire and Safety review, the UConn Police Department shared how they respond to domestic violence incidents and how they were able to cut that in half between 2015 and 2016. The UCPD has a system in place where if the police get in contact with a potential victim they have a series of questions they can ask to access if the victim is in a high priority of danger. They also present the victim with facts to show them that they might be in a domestic violence situation and provide them with any resources including creating a plan and help with getting to the safer environment if necessary.
This kind of work is exactly what the UCPD should be prioritizing. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), intimate partner violence accounts for 15 percent of violent crime. That means that around a sixth of violent crimes in the United States are related to domestic violence. This is large enough of an issue that it should be considered an epidemic.
According to the report, in 2016 there were 26 domestic violence reports which were down from 45 reports in the previous year, a 42 percent drop. While this drop is fantastic, it shows that UConn is not immune to the epidemic sweeping the country. UConn should definitely be putting a focus on the services it offers, especially with the checkered pass the university has with students reporting sexual assault and the care they provide.
There is currently a changing atmosphere towards those who come forward to report sexual assault and domestic violence. Time just recently named Silence Breakers as the Person of the Year, something that not many people saw coming but certainly well deserved. Yet even with more and more people coming forward to report these crimes, the vast majority of people cannot recognize dating/domestic violence or know where the boundary on sexual assault is.
While it is great that the UCPD has identified and lowered the incidents related to domestic violence, they cannot let up now. All students deserve the right to study and grow safely. The UCPD must prioritize informing students of their rights and the signs of domestic/dating violence. The annual Fire and Safety report represents a start, not the finish of a major initiative.