WATCH: More help for domestic abuse victims in the Okanagan
A new domestic violence unit has been announced in Kelowna.
The province’s attorney general Suzanne Anton joined Kelowna RCMP and the Elizabeth Fry Society in announcing the new unit.
“Kelowna’s new unit brings together an integrated team of police, victim services and child protection workers. They take on the highest risk cases supporting victims and holding offenders accountable,” says Anton.
The new domestic violence unit will be situated at the Kelowna RCMP detachment.
It’s the fifth of its kind in the province.
The new unit will not only add a second police officer dedicated specifically to cases of domestic abuse but it will also bring all the resources to help victims under one roof.
“This means that this comprehensive tight team is working in the same office every day and screening files together and working together instantaneously rather than all the phone calls pulling people together to try and meet,” says The Elizabeth Fry Society’s Michelle Novakowski.
Novakowski says the specialized units have already proven successful in the four jurisdictions that already have one.
“There is research that shows if police react to breaches of a protection order for example right away and if there are consequences right away that those breaches are reduced and that across the province and across country that is not happening as well as it could be,” says Novakowski.
The Society helps women and children who are victims of both domestic abuse and sexual assault. Last year the Kelowna based organization helped almost 25-hundred people.
Numbers Kelowna’s RCMP Superintendent Nick Romanchuk is hopeful the new unit helps to reduce.
“We certainly have a high incidence of domestic violence in Kelowna. I believe it will make it easier for victims to report they have been victimized which is what it is about so we can get them the help they need,” says Romanchuk.
While the new unit is expected to help, advocates say we all play a part in reducing domestic violence.
“I think if average person on street calls police when they see someone being assaulted when they hear yelling at neighbor when they think there is an assault going on better to be wrong than someone killed next door and we did not intervene,” says Novakowski.