HOUSTON, Texas — It’s considered a plague in the city of Houston and Harris County.

We’re talking about domestic violence.

According to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, there have been 51 domestic violence related homicides this year.

It ties the number for all of 2018.

However, the DA’s office feels they’ve found a groundbreaking solution to the dangerous and growing trend.

Law enforcement officers know far too well the dangers of domestic violence.

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Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said, “It’s a driver of homicide in our city. It’s a driver of aggravated assaults in our city.”

Domestic Violence deaths

The Texas Council on Family Violence stated 174 women and 32 men were killed by their intimate partners in 2018. Harris County led for most fatalities in the state.

District Attorney Kim Ogg said, “This is a major threat in our community. A real time threat.”

Domestic Abuse Response Team

In a show of solidarity HPD, HCDAO, and community members stood together to show domestic violence victims they are not alone.

They’re tackling domestic violence head on through the Domestic Abuse Response Team or DART.

“We have a real problem and we’ve got to use every tactic and every out of the box solution that we can come up with and DART is our solution,” Ogg said.

Since its launch in January, DART has made almost 800 scene visits.

The grant funded program operates on the weekends in the city’s northside.

A team deploys to make sure families are safe with forensic nurse examiners gathering evidence and victims’ advocates providing ways to get out.

The DA’s office says the murder of Ashanti Hunter served as a catalyst for the program.

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Hunter was executed in front of her children in north Houston in April 2017.

Her boyfriend, Albee Lewis, plead guilty and will spend the next 50 years in prison.

Emilee Whitehurst, CEO of the Houston Area Women’s Center said, “It is an incredible turning point I think potentially for this community. I know our rates are going but I think if there’s anything that can turn around the domestic violence lethality rates in this community it is this kind of collaboration.”

Officials hope to expand DART throughout the entire city in the next four years.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233.


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