The number of domestic violence strangulations reported in Tulsa County is nearly double that of this time last year.
The Tulsa Police Department says that, while it sounds alarming, it actually means more victims are getting help they desperately need.
It’s not just the number of reports that have doubled. The District Attorney’s Office is also working on double the amount of cases. That means more offenders are getting arrested and more victims are getting services they may not have gotten before.
Two arrests were made Monday for domestic strangulation – 34-year-old Antonio Denney Fulton and 33-year-old Meldonado Lavoise Lewis, Jr. It’s the second time for Lewis.
“Unfortunately, some of these, they keep being perpetrators. They keep victimizing our victims,” said Sergeant Clay Asbill.
Police say they average two domestic strangulation cases every day. That’s why the Family Violence Unit launched a new initiative to help victims.
“I’m unaware of any other thing like it,” said Asbill.
Police are trained on what to look for and hand out cards that list symptoms and services.
Sergeant Asbill says, “it’s just incredible, the numbers, how they’ve went up.”
He says arrests have doubled, the number of victims coming in has doubled, and so has the number of cases being charged by the District Attorney.
From January through the end of September, the D.A.’s Office has had 256 cases, compared to 139 for the same time frame last year.
“Of course, being police officers, we like to arrest perpetrators, but that’s not the whole thing,” Asbill said. “If we can get our victims in here and educate them on what their options are, that’s even better. That’s the best.”
Options like forensic exams that are already saving lives.
“We’ve had a couple who have had strokes,” stated Asbill. “Normally, they wouldn’t have had those services before.”
All of the services, including the forensic exams by a nurse, are free.
Sergeant Asbill says this all started with a goal of lowering the number of domestic homicides and they found that many victims had been strangled by their killer before.