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Domestic violence slayings in Cincinnati triple the norm so far in 2021, police say

Community and law enforcement leaders say more conversations need to be had.
Published: Jun. 9, 2021 at 5:28 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Funding to a nonprofit that works to combat domestic violence in Cincinnati is on the chopping block just as, according to experts, homicides related to domestic violence are up in the city.

Experts called the issue a “public health epidemic” in a joint news conference with Cincinnati police on Wednesday.

Cincinnati police say homicides due to domestic violence in the city average around five percent of all homicides, but this year they already comprise 16 percent. City leaders say it’s up to the community to work together and speak collectively to solve the issue.

“With family members and friends, maybe pastors, people who understand relationships,” said Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac of the conversations that need to be had. “What’s a healthy relationship? Recognizing what are the warning signs, the controlling factors, the threats (...) If you don’t tell the person what to look for, how do they know what to look for.”

Kristin Shrimplin is CEO of Women Helping Women, a nonprofit that assists domestic violence victims.

Since Women Helping Women started in 2018, Shrimplin says the nonprofit has helped more than 3,000 domestic violence survivors in Greater Cincinnati, for example by providing money for down payments on apartments or by changing locks or storage.

“It’s got to be part of a layer of collaboration,” Shrimplin said of solutions to the homicide spike, “whether that’s with law enforcement, or a survivor agency like us, or other social service agencies. It has to be a collaboration, and it has to involve policymakers.”

Women Helping Women aims to be part of the solution, but after receiving $250,000 in city funding last year, they’re currently absent from the city’s FY 2022 budget recommended by City Manager Paula Boggs Muething.

“The city manager put out the budget, and we’re not in it, so what changed? Why not invest now?” Shrimplin said.

The city administration appears to want to move in a different direction to deal with domestic violence slayings.

Shrimplin told FOX19 NOW on Monday the proposed budget does include a “violence prevention” section but that Women Helping Women isn’t included.

The effort would instead create a domestic violence enhancement response team. It would send associates with Cincinnati police to the scene of domestic violence incidents. Advocates would offer emergency assistance at the scene and help people make safety plans otherwise.

Shrimplin says there should be additional focus on survivors of domestic violence. She advocated on their behalf with police on Wednesday.

Cincinnati Police Officer Shameka Jackson says her cousin was a victim of domestic violence. Deborah Evans, 39, was fatally shot in April.

“I really hated that it happened in our family,” Jackson said. “We haven’t had a homicide in decades, at least in my lifetime. So when this happened, we all talked about it and talked about how we really have to check in with one another.”

Lt. Colonel Lisa Davis says those check-ins are important.

“It’s a larger conversation,” Davis said, “and we need to get to the point where we’re having those.”

Community leaders say too many of these situations have been happening behind closed doors, especially during the pandemic, when people have been isolated in their homes with no privacy to make an emergency call. That’s why they’re hoping, with restrictions lifted, more people will speak up and report these crimes before it’s too late.

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