Domestic violence calls on the rise amid pandemic, MPD says

MEDFORD, Ore. — Police say crime statistics may be down locally, but that doesn’t mean police aren’t concerned about what’s happening behind closed doors.

“People really don’t want to do anything about it until it’s reached critical levels and then it’s usually too late,” said Lt. Mike Budreau, Medford Police Dept.

Home sweet home isn’t always the safest place for children and families, especially when you factor in the stress of a global pandemic.

“Those individuals that were perhaps in a bad relationship or had been experiencing fits of potential violence… is being exacerbated by the situation right now and that’s our concern,” he said.

Right now, Lt. Budreau says the majority of what MPD officers are responding to are domestic violence disputes.

He says they’ve had 232 calls in the last 30 days.

That’s way above normal levels.

“It’s not uncommon for one shift, a shift being 12 hours, to have 3 arrests for domestic violence and that’s never been the case before,” Lt. Budreau said.

With families isolated at home and feeling increased levels of anxiety in this uncertain time, Lt. Budreau says tensions are running high and arguments can turn physical.

“There are a lot of stresses going on on individuals right now, the uncertainty of their careers, the financial impacts, there’s health concerns and then you add that to the fact that they’re really being cooped up with each other with not a lot to do besides walking around the neighborhood or something like that,” he said.

Children are especially at risk.

Executive Director of ‘Prevent Child Abuse Oregon,’ Pamela Heisler says calls to the state’s child abuse hotline are down 70 percent.

“We know that kids didn’t suddenly get way safer and aren’t experiencing trauma in the home. For us as advocates working in this field, the worry is that kids just aren’t in places where there are mandatory reporters right now. Everyone is trapped at home, they’re not in child care, they’re not in school,” said Heisler.

Because kids don’t know how to call the hotline or even report signs of abuse, Heisler says it’s more important than ever to look out for each other.

Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to report domestic abuse.

Call 1-855-503-SAFE (7233) to report child abuse.

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