Domestic Violence Sweep

October 29, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dozens of domestic violence suspects have been pulled out of their homes and sent to the Fresno County jail after a massive sweep involving more than 100 law enforcement officers.Police from all over Fresno County checked on suspects in more than 150 homes. They called it "Operation Safe At Home" and it ended with 43 arrests and hopefully, a lot more safe homes.

Safety is a relative term for a woman who spoke to Action News and wanted to be identified only as "Staci". After more than four years with an emotionally abusive man, she realized her home wasn't safe, for herself or her child.

"I thought domestic violence was getting beat up and put in the hospital like in the movies," said Staci. "I didn't know it was financial, emotional, [and] psychological."

Staci made the break and she's getting help from the Marjaree Mason Center -- including somewhere to stay and counseling. She says it's given her a chance to find the woman she was before she let someone else take control.

"The longer you're away, the more your sense of self comes back," Staci said. "And that's what I'm doing. My sense of self is coming back."

Not everybody gets the chance to make that break, but local law enforcement is trying to help.

Fresno police video shows an arrest from Wednesday that officers say cleared an abusive man out of a home. It was one of the 43 arrests during "Operation Safe At Home."

"In one of those cases, the individual we arrested had threatened to kill his entire family," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

Police are hoping the sweep can slow down an alarming trend. This year, Fresno has seen 5585 domestic violence cases, up 16% over last year. But this sweep is giving dozens of families a chance to start over, without fear. Staci sees the results of her new start every day in her little girl's smile.

"That makes it all worth it," she said. "So yeah, I take the most pride in my daughter and then after her, comes me."

The Marjaree Mason C enter has a 24-hour domestic violence hotline for people who need help, or just information. You can call 233-HELP.

Big domestic violence sweeps like "Operation Safe At Home" happen twice a year in Fresno County, but individual agencies, like the sheriff's department, conduct smaller sweeps about once a month.



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