MAYS LANDING – Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner is calling on all law enforcement officers to exercise extra caution when responding to calls for service for reports of domestic violence incidents under the current circumstances due to COVID-19.
“Under “normal” circumstances calls of service for domestic violence incidents are among the most dangerous for our law enforcement officers,” Atlantic County Prosecutor Tyner said.
In Atlantic County the total number of domestic violence victims for 2019 is 1,021. Year-to-date for 2020 is 311. The total number of victims serviced by the unit last year was 7,240. The ACPO Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit has serviced 109 domestic violence victims since March 18, 2020 (to date) during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in New Jersey.
“We are continuing to notify victims of their rights and provide crisis intervention and referrals during the coronavirus pandemic while working remotely to help protect ourselves as well. Additionally, as a result of Governor Murphy’s executive order 124 we are also informing victims of the release of inmates from the NJ Department of Corrections,” said ACPO Victim Witness Coordinator Raymond Royster.
Three police officers across the US were shot and killed over the last month while responding to calls for incidents of domestic violence. Nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of “severe physical violence by an intimate partner”, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Sunday, March 29, 2020, Phoenix Police Commander Greg Carnicle, 56, was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call involving roommates at an apartment near 40th Drive and Pinnacle Peak Street. According to Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP), Commander Carnicle and two other officers were speaking to one of the occupants inside of the home when the man suddenly drew a weapon and opened fire, wounding all three officers. Commander Carnicle was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his wounds. The other two officers suffered non-life threatening wounds. The subject was shot and killed by tactical units as they attempted to take him into custody. Commander Carnicle had served with the Phoenix Police Department for 31 years and was scheduled to retire in two months. He is survived by his wife and four children, the ODMP page included.
On April 9, 2020, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Breann Leath, 24, was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call at 1803 Edinburge Square shortly before 3:00 p.m. According to Officer Down Memorial Page, a subject inside opened fire through the apartment’s closed front, striking Officer Leath and a female resident of the apartment who was standing in the outside hallway. Both were taken to a local hospital where Officer Leath succumbed to her wounds. The subject was taken into custody and subsequently charged with murder and attempted murder. Officer Leath was a veteran of the National Guard and had served with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for three years. She is survived by her 3-year-old son, her parents, who both serve with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and two sisters who have worked in corrections, according to information from the ODMP.
The latest police officer shot and killed in the United States while responding to a call for service for a domestic violence incident on April 18, 2020, was San Marcos (TX) Police Officer Justin Putnam. Officer Putnam was shot and killed when he and other officers responded to a domestic assault incident at an apartment complex in the 2900 block of Hunter Road at about 7:00 p.m., according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
As the officers entered the apartment they were ambushed by a male subject with a rifle. Officer Putnam was killed and two other officers were critically wounded. The subject committed suicide after shooting the officers. Officer Putnam had served with the San Marcos Police Department for 5-1/2 years, according to the ODMP.
“Due to the stress as a result of the current circumstances, I would urge all law enforcement to take extra caution when responding to these incidents,” Atlantic County Prosecutor Tyner cautioned law enforcement officers, following these recent fatal shootings of police officers responding to calls for service for incidents of domestic violence.
In addition to law enforcement officers succumbing to the COVID-19 complications, across the nation so far in 2020, there have been a total of 51, line of duty law enforcement deaths, according to data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.
- 9/11 related illness- 2
- Automobile crash- 10
- Duty related illness- 12
- Gunfire- 15
- Heart attack- 3
- Motorcycle crash- 1
- Struck by vehicle- 2
- Vehicle pursuit- 2
- Vehicular assault- 4
The ACPO Office of Victim Witness Advocacy offers the following services provided to victims of domestic violence:
- Crisis intervention, with referrals to counseling for themselves and their children to address the chronic trauma, control issues.
- Social service referrals and advocacy. Clients need to know what agencies are available in the community to help them, and how they can access those services.
- Criminal justice advocacy/explanation of the criminal and family court process. Includes explaining why the police have to arrest in certain DV offenses, why the prosecutor’s office pursues DV
cases, and discussing safety plans.
- Court accompaniment to provide advocacy and emotional support
- Advising victims of their rights as a DV victim, including their right to request a restraining order and explaining how a restraining order may assist them
- Notifying victims of court dates, outcomes
- Information about the VINE system so victims can be notified when an offender’s custody status changes
- Transportation to court to provide their Victim Impact Statement (if needed)
- Assistance with their Victim Impact statement, and request for restitution
- Facilitating HIV testing of offenders in certain sexual assault/DV cases
- Victims of Crime Compensation Office assistance, including advising the victim of the financial reimbursement and assistance/support they can receive from the VCCO-relocation assistance, loss of support, reimbursement for medical/counseling and other expenses; assistance with completing the VCCO application, advocacy on their behalf to the VCCO.
Anyone with information involving serious crimes is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-909-7800 or go to the Prosecutor’s Office Web site at http://www.acpo.org/tips.html and provide information by filling out the form anonymously on the Submit a Tip page. People can also call Crime Stoppers at 609-652-1234 or 1-800-658-8477 (TIPS) or visit the Crime Stoppers Website at http://www.crimestoppersatlantic.com/. Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those who commit crimes in Atlantic County.