Family Services of Tulare County Executive Director Caity Meader says there have been 11 domestic violence-related deaths in the county this year, as well as three murder-suicides since April.
"In most domestic violence cases that end in homicide, there are identifiable patterns leading up to the fatal incident," said Family Services of Tulare County Executive Director Caity Meader. "When we can identify, early in the process, which cases are escalating toward a homicide, there are opportunities for our system to intervene that's what the Domestic Violence High-Risk Team does."
Thursday, Sheriff Mike Boudreaux and Tulare County officials announced the creation of the county's first Domestic Violence High-Risk Team-a model developed by a domestic violence center on the east coast.
It started in Tulare County on October 1st and is funded by a $450,000 grant from the Department of Justice.
The goal is to identify the most dangerous domestic violence cases and intervene before someone is killed.
It starts with Tulare County deputies and detectives who will use an assessment to determine if a case could result in homicide.
If so, the case is sent to the newly formed team for follow-up services.
"(It includes) monitoring, counseling, and mentorship to the victim as well as to the suspect," said Tulare County Lt. Mark Gist. "All that works in conjunction to be predictable to help prevent things from escalating to near-lethal or lethal type domestic violence incidents."
Lt. Gist says eight cases were sent to the high-risk team in the first half of October.
The program is in its early stages, and officials do not anticipate all domestic violence victims will want to participate, but they want them to know they're not alone, and that this new team could save their life.
"There is hope, and there is someone willing to help if you make the call," said Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward.