"Behind Closed Doors"- Part 4

By: Tamara Evans
By: Tamara Evans

For many women, domestic violence and violent relationships is something they are all too familar with.

Even for Bowling Green Police Chief, Bill Waltrip, it's something that hits home.

"My sister was killed in 1969 by her husband. I was 15 at the time and I didn't know the term domestic violence. That terminology to my knowledge wasn't around at the time", says Waltrip.

Nearly six years later Waltrip became a police officer, and looking back, says he believes this act of domestic violence his family experienced may have led him to where he is now.

"To try to help particularly victims of crimes. Alot of times victims are overlooked and that was really true in the past. Again, that's something thats improved", says Waltrip.

Victims weren't the only ones being overlooked. Domestic violence as a whole was. It just wasn't something people talked about.

"I started in 1975 and domestic violence was looked at as a family issue . It wasn't a police issue, or a court issue, however that's changed alot now", says Waltrip.

Unlike how police departments handled these calls in the past, now they do take measures to stop these violent relationships. This can be through arrests, reports made, or paperwork filled out that is sent to social services. Now, officers don't even need to be there when the violence occurs to take action.

"If there's been some type of violence the officers will make an arrest and we can make that arrest based on probable cause that it happened. We don't have to see the assault in a domestic violence case to actually make the arrest", says Waltrip.

Many times for the officers this can be a very dangerous situation. In fact, this is the most dangerous type of situation officers respond to.

"When you go to place charges or arrest someone that's involved, .the complainant or the victim in the case may then change their mind and not want you to do that or the aggressor in that case may then turn on you in an effort to avoid being arrested or charged", says Bowling Green police officer, Monica Woods.

"You don't know how volatile or violent the situation may be until you actually respond. What may be something that starts as only an argument may turn into something much worse", says Woods.

So officers now are taking these situations more seriously than back in the 70's and 80's. Domestic violence is now more than just a "family problem".

"Society has changed their outlook too. It's not only the police, but I think as a society we have now determined that domestic violence is against the law", says Waltrip.

For Chief Waltrip not only is it against the law but it's an issue he will forever be close to and is trying to prevent for others.

"If you're touched by it, it is something that you do take seriously. My heart goes out to the victims. It's just bad for everybody", says Waltrip.

Here's some advice from the police department if violence does occur.

You can call 911, get out and go to a neigbor's house, tell a friend, go to the emergency room if injured, file and Emergency Protective Order or a Domestic Violence Order, or call a crisis hotline.

In our area you can call the Barren River Area Safe Space if you need help.

That number is 1-800-928-1183.


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