AURORA, Colo. — The Aurora Police Department announced Thursday morning that it is creating a domestic violence unit that will be fully functional by the start of 2021.
The police department released a video on its Facebook page Thursday, featuring Sgt. Todd Alscher explaining how the new unit will work. He said the unit will be dedicated to investigating felony-level crimes related to domestic violence.
The Aurora Police Department is one of the few major city agencies that doesn't have this type of unit. Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz has been working to establish this since he became chief in 2015, the police department said in a press release.
On average, the Aurora Police Department responds to 6,700 domestic violence-related calls for service each year, according to the department. That averages out to roughly 18 each day.
“Our mission in building such a unit is to have a specialized approach in conducting thorough investigations, followed by the arrest and successful prosecution of those criminals who have committed crimes against their intimate partner,” Alscher said.
The unit will provide resources, awareness efforts and collaborate with the police department's victim services unit and other community partners. It will be staffed with one sergeant and five investigators, Alscher said.
In the video, Andrea Feist, a victim advocate with the police department, said partnering with this new unit will assist them with helping domestic violence victims. Areli Villanueva, a bilingual victim advocate with the police department, said the domestic violence unit will also help the victims prepare for the criminal justice process.
One of the goals of the victim services unit is to reduce and eliminate the number of domestic violence-related homicides. Feist said they believe this new partnership with the domestic violence unit will help them achieve this.
The number of domestic violence incidents and felony domestic violence aggravated assaults has seen a large spike in the past four years, and several of those incidents led to domestic violence-related homicides, the department said. Despite the serious risk to victims, many do not report this crime.
Police said they hope this new unit will give those people the courage to report what's happening and seek resources for help.
The police department said they are aiming to have the domestic violence unit ready to operate by or before Jan. 1, 2021.
If you or somebody you know is a victim of domestic violence, contact the Aurora Police Department's Dispatch Center at 303-627-3100 or call 911.