As part of a parishwide effort to increase services for domestic violence victims, the Lafayette Police Department is creating a new detective position focused solely on investigating those crimes.
Lafayette Cpl. Dorian Brabham, who wrote a federal grant to fund the position, said the detective will work from within the Family Justice Center of Acadiana — a single location where domestic violence victims will soon be able to seek help and file police reports and legal paperwork.
Brabham said stationing a detective inside the center will help foster collaboration among social services agencies and increase the likelihood that domestic violence victims report the crimes.
“A lot of times victims will just go to the (women’s domestic violence shelter) Faith House, and they won’t report anything to police. We hope that this detective will bridge that gap,” Brabham said.
Before creating the specialized position, detectives investigating all crimes against persons — including rapes, robberies and homicides — also investigated cases of domestic violence. And at present, those in need of services must make contact with multiple people at multiple locations throughout the city.
Once the Family Justice Center opens Jan. 25, the specialized police detective will work at the center alongside representatives from a number of other agencies, including the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Lafayette Volunteer Lawyers, the sexual assault organization Hearts of Hope and AVEC Les Enfants, which provides supervised visitation for noncustodial parents.
“Instead of bouncing victims all over the city when they’re already in a time of need, this building will already contain everything,” Brabham said.
Billi Lacombe, executive director of Faith House, said having a specialized law enforcement officer working so closely with the other agencies will help increase judicial success in holding perpetrators of domestic violence accountable.
“Having a detective that works only those cases increases the capability of the prosecutors to have a more effective prosecution of the cases. So that’s what we’re hoping for,” Lacombe said.
A $224,668 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women will fund three years of the detective’s salary, along with additional training, education and computer equipment.
Lacombe said Faith House expects to increase its service capabilities once the Family Justice Center opens, doubling an average of about 500 women and children served each year to an estimated 1,000 or more. The center will be located at 208 W. Main St.
An average of 417 incidents of domestic abuse battery were reported in Lafayette each year from 2010-2014, with an average of 113 protective order violations recorded each year during that same time frame, according to Lafayette Police Department data.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.