Crimetracker: Domestic Violence Up in Heat

7/18/2008 Fresno, CA -----------------------------------------------
ABC30 Crimetracker link

Our exclusive Action News Crimetracker shows a drastic trend all across the valley this summer and the magic number seems to be 95. Once the temperature hits 95, domestic violence statistics peak.

The Fresno police domestic violence unit knocks on more doors during extreme heat waves than any other time of year. The sheriff's department deals with the same problems.

"When the weather gets warmer, we have an increase in crimes and an increase in arrests," said Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims.

Crimetracker backs up the sheriff. We analyzed crime data from three different time frames; in Fresno, Fresno County, Madera County, and Merced County and found a significant difference.

Between Feb. 20 and March 11, when the high temperature was between 55 and 77, there were 109 cases of domestic violence. Between April 8 and April 26, when the high was between 62 and 94, there were also 109 cases. But in late June and early July, as temperatures climbed above 95 degrees, there were 138 domestic attacks.

That's a 26% increase and it includes 30 cases in Fresno alone.

But abuse counselors say heat is not necessarily a key ingredient to domestic violence. "There's no real recipe for domestic violence," said Justin Red with the Marjaree Mason Center. "The fact of the matter is: it exists. It exists in every community, every culture, and every economic level across the board, and it exists year-round."

At the Marjaree Mason Center, on a 100 degree day this week, 10 women showed up in crisis.

Red says their numbers may be different because many women are too scared to call the police. Sheriff Mims says there's also a lack of services in rural parts of the valley, so women are even more frightened to report domestic abuse.

But police and abuse counselors agree knowledge is the key to reversing the trend. "There is help. There are services like the Marjaree Mason Center," said Red.

Another theory about increased police reports in the summer is that people have their windows open, so neighbors are more likely to hear them screaming, and then call the police.

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