Midstate police, experts chime in on domestic violence after Petito case highlights national issue

Carlisle/West Shore

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — We’ve seen the body cam video, the outrage, and the sadness. But a story like that of Gabby Petito believed to have been killed by her boyfriend, isn’t unique.

“We respond to domestic violence calls almost every day,” Officer Joe Rucinsky of the Carlisle Borough Police Department said. Rucinsky also says they’re just one of many responsibilities that come with the job. But they can hit a little harder.

“When we respond it’s some of the most volatile, unpredictable calls that we can go to as police officers. So when we get there, our goal is to mitigate whatever issues are going on,” Rucinsky said. But Carlisle PD says they always make sure to have the right people at the scene, or at least someone on-call like Sonya Browne.

“Over the last year, we actually fielded 1,889 hotline calls and 13% of them fell into the category of high risk of death,” Browne said. She is with the Domestic Violence Services of Cumberland and Perry Counties. She says those numbers are not improving.

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“Our numbers have increased this past year. All the numbers have increased since the year before,” Browne said. “This year, a rough estimate of probably around 700 or so,” Rucinsky said.

Too many both police and advocates agree. So, what can be done about it?

Browne says if you are in an abusive relationship, first, she says to know it is not your fault. If you are scared, there are people out there to lend a hand, who won’t just tell you to get out, which she says is often easier said than done. “We don’t encourage anyone to leave, just to get help,” Browne said.

As for police, domestic violence may be a hard part of the job but, “you think and you’re like, this is why I do my job,” Rucinsky said.

Browne says anyone of any age or gender can be a victim of domestic violence and getting out of an abusive situation does not mean you have to leave your entire life behind. To learn more and find helpful resources, you can click the link here.

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