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Task force begins deaths review to avoid fatal domestic violence



Published: Mon, October 30, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The reviews will include working with county officials and municipal court.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- The Trumbull County Domestic Violence Task Force has begun a countywide review of domestic-related deaths to determine how best to avoid them.

Dr. Carol Gregory, an associate professor of justice studies and director of Public Safety Training and Research at the Trumbull campus of Kent State University, is coordinating the review.

Gregory, a sociologist and review manager, said the systematic analysis of suicide, homicide and suicide-homicide cases in the county will help clarify the connection between such deaths and domestic violence.

Depending on what is found, it also will lead to better understanding the problem of domestic violence and identifying prevention and awareness strategies, she said.

The review will take about a year to complete.

Gregory explained that coroner's files from 1998 to currently closed cases are being analyzed.

Prosecutor's files

The task force will then turn to data from the prosecutor's office to determine if domestic violence in a death may have been overlooked, she said.

Information concerning criminal history, mental health, prior abuse and military records will be reviewed. Discharges can reveal mental health problems and violence while in the service.

"By understanding these situations, it can make them [those involved] aware of possible outcomes," Gregory said.

The idea, she explained, is to understand the conditions and signs that get people involved in domestic-relations fatalities.

"Part of the problem is that people don't know how it's going to end up," Gregory said of those who commit suicide or kill others and then themselves as part of domestic violence.

Agencies that deal with domestic violence, such as shelters or help hot lines, find it difficult to act because of their limited authority. They are not able to respond until there is an overt act.

Police officers have become desensitized because they think the couple will simply get back together after getting out of a domestic-violence situation.

In the review

Those involved in the Trumbull County partnership for the review include Dr. Theodore Soboslay, county coroner; Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, coroner's forensic pathologist; Toni Clement, coroner's investigator; Dennis Watkins, county prosecutor; Judge Thomas Gysegem of Warren Municipal Court; Warren Police Chief John Mandopoulos; and Linda Baer of Someplace Safe, a Warren shelter for abused women and their children.

Gregory said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has recognized that tracking and understanding violent death can lead to the development of interventions and improve responses to potentially fatal situations.

In 2003, the CDC piloted a National Violent Death Reporting System, which standardizes a collection of information in violent cases and compiles it for analysis with states and across the country.

Currently, 17 states are participating in NVDRS as part of a federally funded grant program.

Gregory said Ohio has been approved as a participant; funding, however, is not available to support the project.

Gregory said she hopes that when funding is made available to Ohio, Trumbull County will be in a better position with the fatality review she is managing to convert to the NVDRS.

yovich@vindy.com




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