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Emanuel creates task force to ‘break the cycle’ of domestic violence

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

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Updated: January 4, 2014 6:34AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to make the city safe for women.

They are victims of a very private crime that has claimed the lives of 30 to 40 Chicagoans a year on average in the past decade.

Its primary hunting season is the Christmas holidays, and it happens in a very private place: The home.

And if Emanuel has his way, the threat of deadly domestic abuse will be predictable and preventable.

◆ Translation: Sneed is told that Emanuel has created a new intergovernmental task force to address domestic violence.

“This is an issue he is passionate about, and the timing was right,” a mayoral source told Sneed.

“The holidays are a particularly dangerous time for those at risk of domestic violence,” the source added. “Alcohol, stress, tensions can sometimes reach a dangerous peak.”

Sneed has learned that the mayor’s office is partnering with the Chicago Police Department, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Department of Family and Support Services and other advocacy groups in a collaborative effort to save lives with new strategies.

“The police department never has had a strategy to proactively identify the highest-risk domestic abuse cases,” the source added. “If a strangulation was attempted in the past, is that the ultimate test for predicting domestic homicide?”

“It’s not easy to gain the trust of victims in this very private crime, where victims suffer in silence and fail to press charges out of fear,” a second mayoral source said.

“This is a crime engulfed in a cycle of violence for years, and we need to break the cycle,” Emanuel told Sneed. “Our new domestic abuse task force will be aimed at detecting deadly warning signs for high-risk domestic abuse cases.”

◆ The stats: About 200,000 domestic-related incidents are reported to the police annually, with 500 domestic abuse calls a day. “The total number of homicides this past year number 382 and if approximately 50 victims annually are the result of domestic abuse, getting this program underway could cut out a deadly chunk,” the second mayoral source said.

Statistics show it’s much harder to make inroads in someone’s home. Victims of domestic violence tend to suffer for years, afraid to reach out or unsure where to look for help. They don’t always press charges.

One in four women nationally will experience violence from an intimate partner in her lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . . . and 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women, according to Department of Justice statistics.

Watch for the task force to:

◆ Prioritize re-training of police officers in dealing with victims of domestic abuse.

◆ Rewrite the playbook on showing empathy toward victims and asking the right questions to ensure an effective court case.

◆ Develop strategies to encourage trust in the police and the judicial system.

◆ Increase access to city social services for victims.

The new task force is focusing on a narrower agenda than the Domestic Violence Coordinated Response Council, which for years has worked to improve policy related to the issue.

◆ Bottom line: The orders of protection need to be rewritten.

A music note . . .

Yum yum: Uber thin singer Michael “When a Man Loves a Woman” (but not Nicollette Sheridan) Bolton was spotted at Alex Dana’s new incarnation of Centro, spooling vegetarian pasta chased by mashed potatoes.

Sneedlings . . .

Happy. Happy. Mayor Rahm Emanuel celebrated his 54th birthday Friday with a special tour of the Field Museum exhibit, “Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World’s Fair” with his wife, Amy, brother Ari, and hizzoner’s real estate broker Paul Levy. And, yes, all the kids were in tow. . . . Tuesday’s birthdays: Ozzy Osbourne, 65; Amanda Seyfried, 28, and Julianne Moore, 53.

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