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Wexton legislation provides support, resources to law enforcement responding to surge of domestic violence calls

30 April 2020 Covid19 Winchester Frederick County Clarke County News


Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton who represents Winchester City, Clarke and Frederick counties, introduced the bipartisan Domestic Violence Public Health Emergency Guidance Act to provide resources and guidance to law enforcement agencies responding to increased levels of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under stay-at-home orders, many survivors have been left with no option but to shelter in place with an abuser. For many men and women, the COVID-19 public health emergency coupled with increased stress and anxiety from financial burdens has made life even more volatile and dangerous. According to the news release, many state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies have reported a significant increase in domestic violence calls since implementing COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.

“These officers are saving lives every day, but they’re working under unprecedented circumstances. Now more than ever, it’s critical that we provide law enforcement with the support they need to protect themselves and survivors,” said Wexton in a news release.

Wexton’s legislation would direct the Attorney General to work with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and relevant domestic violence and law enforcement stakeholders to issue guidance. The guidance would include best practices on limiting exposure to COVID-19, assessing and addressing domestic violence threats during the pandemic, enforcing domestic violence protective orders and child custody orders, and more. An educational resource guide would also be created. It would focus on risk factors unique to COVID-19 that increase the chances of escalation and lethality in domestic violence, training and investigation tools for officers, vicarious trauma resources and resources for survivors during COVID-19.

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