ARLINGTON, Wash. – When he came into the job in 2017, Arlington Police Chief Jonathan Ventura said he was “almost embarrassed” by how the department was handling domestic violence reports.
“We were doing what was required of us, but these are sensitive situations and it just was not enough,” said Ventura, who wanted to make sure victims had a voice in the process each step of the way.
That’s why he advocated for a new position at the department – a domestic violence coordinator who could help victim’s through a case from start to finish.
Tiffany Krusey-Kelly and her company, Bridge Coordination Services, teamed up with the department at the beginning of 2019 to provide a more personal approach for domestic violence survivors.
“Whether they be verbal arguments between parties, or criminal cases, we review those and we contact the victims to provide them with information on services and what’s likely to happen, mostly in the municipal cases,” she said. “The fact that somebody is reaching out is imperative, because then they have the ability to call later and say, 'Hey I’m not really sure where things are at, can you give me an update?' Or, 'I feel really differently today.' That is a very powerful tool for them to be able to express themselves.”
Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert said the renewed emphasis on domestic violence cases sends a powerful message to survivors.
“Like all victims, you want them not to feel alone. You want them to feel a sense of hope – that there’s somebody out there that wants to hear their story and cares about their message and can direct them to resources that actually help them,” Mayor Tolbert said.
While it’s too early to say what impact the new approach has had, Chief Ventura said he hopes it will ultimately reduce the number of domestic violence occurrences.
“Having that personal connection and that holding of the hand from the beginning of the process to the end of the process will increase our prosecutions in those matters, which ultimately sends a better message that we don’t tolerate domestic violence in our community," he said. "We will prosecute you and we will follow through with that prosecution.”