Increased Reports Of Domestic Strangulation, Arrests Also Up, Police Say

Monday, July 16th 2018, 5:47 pm
By: Amy Avery

Tulsa police officers say they respond to nearly 20,000 domestic violence calls each year.

They say more strangulation victims seem to be coming forward for help.

For the past several months, officers in Tulsa have been handing out cards to strangulation victims on how to get help.  They say this initiative is continuing to pay off for victims in a big way.

“Strangulation is different, it’s not just choking,” said Kathy Bell, a forensic nurse and administrator with TPD.  “I think that’s where that minimization comes into it.”

Bell has seen more than 500 patients for domestic exams in the past six months – 142 of those have been for strangulation victims.

These numbers have doubled since last year.

“I think we are capturing what we were missing before,” said Sergeant Clay Asbill, Family Violence Supervisor.

The Tulsa Police Department says it works vigilantly with officers who go out on domestic calls to be aware of the signs of strangulation and to hand out cards to victims on how to get out of a bad situation.

“They’re the first ones in contact,” said Asbill, “so it’s important that they have that training so they can know what to look for.”

During the training, Bell says she advises officers to be aware of obvious signs like marks on the neck, but to also look out for hoarseness or changes in the voice.

“It’s going to be very unusual that we see marks on the neck and those kind of things,” Bell said.  “The damage is more often done inside the neck where you can’t see it.”

From January 1st to June 30th, 355 domestic strangulations were reported, up from 190 reported in the first six months of last year.

Asbill credits the numbers nearly doubling to officers being more cognizant of the signs and public awareness.

He says “we are getting them the help they need and we did make double the arrests.”

In the past six months, 140 people have been charged in Tulsa County with strangulation, compared to 73 at this time last year.

Asbill says he hopes those numbers will continue to increase.

“We’re just capturing it, we’re documenting it better,” he said.  “We are able to talk to those victims and figure out what’s happened better.”

The Tulsa Police Department says they hope to expand this program beyond Tulsa County and include more departments around the state.