Gov: DV is a public health emergency

Massachusetts Gov. Patrick declares domestic violence emergency
June 05, 2008

BOSTON – In the wake of the murder of a Holyoke woman, Gov. Deval L. Patrick today declared a public health emergency on domestic violence.

“We have a public health emergency on our hands,” Patrick said at a press conference. “This is something that affects us all.”

According to statistics from Jane Doe Inc., there were 42 murders related to domestic violence in 2007, up 50 percent from 2006 and nearly triple the 15 murders in 2005.

There have been 19 such murders so far this year including the most recent – the killing of Iris D. Padilla, 34, of Holyoke on Tuesday, according to Jane Doe Inc. Padilla, of 68 Cabot St., was found dead in her fifth-floor apartment.

Holyoke Police Capt. Arthur R. Monfette said police found the suspect, Alexander Escalera, 29, yesterday at his mother’s home in New York City. Police are holding Escalera on outstanding traffic and drug charges and are taking out a complaint against him on a warrant for murder, Monfette said.

. . . Patrick said the statistics show a dramatic spike in domestic violence. As possible reasons for the increase, he cited economic anxiety and a lack of coordination among agencies, government and other groups that he said he wants to remedy.

Patrick said his administration will review data from domestic violence deaths in the last three years to look for possible trends that could help in prevention.

In order to improve police action on domestic violence and sexual assaults, the state will standardize training for police recruits and veteran officers, Patrick said. The training will also include the need for a coordinated response involving schools, municipal government and other groups and agencies.

The state Department of Public Health issued a public health advisory on domestic violence.

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Statement from Mary R. Lauby, Executive Director, Jane Doe Inc.

. . . Today, marked a new day in Massachusetts. A day that we can say started to turn things around for victims of domestic violence. A day where at the highest levels of government a commitment was made to forge even stronger and deeper collaborations with victim advocates. A day when batterers were told enough is enough.

The two domestic violence homicides this past weekend in Upton and Holyoke bring the total number of deaths so far this year to 24. These murders formed the backdrop to today’s events.

We applaud the Governor’s release of a Public Health Advisory and the call for people in all systems to consider their role in helping to identify victims and provide resources and referrals that can help prevent these homicides from happening. The updated training of police officers will also lead to improved practices to keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable.

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