Local police department puts focus on women of abuse - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

BELLMEAD

Local police department puts focus on women of abuse

BELLMEAD, TX (KXXV) - An increase in reported violence against women has caused the Bellmead Police Department to take action.

They have received nearly a hundred domestic abuse cases in the past six months. That is a concern that had to be addressed, considering it's such a high number of cases for a town with a population less than 10,000.

"This is one area that I felt the need for attention and the more we can offer to our citizens and offer to our victims the more comfortable they will feel to come out," Bellmead Chief of Police Lydia Alvarado said.

With an increase in reported cases, Bellmead detectives became overwhelmed with the workload. The police department decided to apply for a federal grant to begin a new violence against women program. As a result, two new staff members have been added to focus on female victims of domestic abuse.

"I feel like I can focus more on those cases so the victims feel like there is somebody out there that is going to do something," Bellmead police detective Jessica Benton said.

The new staff has not only allowed the police department to work more cases, but also give victims a safe group of people to talk to.

"It's a huge empowerment to a victim. That they can voice it. They can tell someone. And they know that the someone they are telling they can trust to help them not hurt them," Alvarado said.

Alvarado says the program has been effective so far. Nearly 30 arrests have been made this year, and charges for those criminals have ranged from strangulation to sexual assaults. But the program's real impact takes place outside the jail, where the police department provides the victims with the help they need right away.

"I'll transfer the victim over to her to help with resources such as the family violence shelter, counseling services, and stuff like that," Benton said.

Benton says she in most cases she has worked, the response for help has been greatly appreciated.

"They are glad something is being done about it and trying to get their daughter or sister or whoever it is out of that situation," Benton said.

Bellmead police plan to continue the program for as long as possible. They hope to provide an open door for victims to speak up.

"I am hoping by giving the victims more avenues and being able to have more staffing to focus on this that the offenses obviously will decrease and also to strengthen the victims so that they know they don't have to live this way," Alvarado said. 

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