Warm weather heats-up domestic violence

FRESNO, Calif.

Police Chief Jerry Dyer says domestic violence typically gets worse as the summer heats up. But by getting these suspects off the streets, he hopes to head off a crime wave before the seasons change.

A dreaded knock on the door from police led 14 domestic violence suspects into handcuffs and the Fresno County Jail Tuesday and Wednesday. Fresno Police call these suspects the most active domestic abusers - people like Marvin Carraway.

Officers have made contact 27 times with the one-time basketball star for Washington Union High School.

Chief Jerry Dyer said, "That is a person who if we don't deal with him severely in the criminal justice system, he's not only going to re-offend, but the likelihood of him being involved in a more violent domestic violence relationship is great."

Police arrested Carraway Tuesday on a warrant for violating probation on a 2010 domestic violence conviction. He also faces new charges from this year including false imprisonment, cutting telephone lines and child abuse. It's that kind of escalation police are trying to prevent.

Although the number of domestic violence cases is fairly steady in Fresno. Aggravated assault cases are up 16% this year, meaning the injuries are more serious. And victims' advocates say most of the violence is witnessed by children, leading to more problems down the road.

Pam Kallsen said, "If there is not peace in our homes, it's going to spill out into violence in our streets and our schools and everywhere we turn."

Investigators made a list of their most wanted domestic violence suspects, put it in the newspaper, and set out to make arrests. Working with the Marjaree Mason Center, they're getting help for the victims, but just showing up at the door is sometimes enough.

Elizabeth Egan said, "I've had victims of domestic violence tell me an officer saved their life. He was there at her house repeatedly due to calls for help."

Prosecuting the suspects is the next step in stopping the violence, but the district attorney's office has lost about 30% of its staff in the domestic violence unit. Specialized sweeps like this one help them get through more cases in less time.

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