Advocates: More data, training needed to combat domestic violence in Nevada

Dec 24, 2014

Credit Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence

Setting up a statewide data system to track domestic violence offenses is one of several recommendations just released from a committee spearheaded by Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports the group suggests that data go hand-in-hand with more specialized training for first responders working with victims. 

The review team formed after Nevada was ranked first in the nation for its rate of women murdered by men, a figure released in a 2011 report by the Violence Policy Center.

Nevada now comes in at number 6, but advocates say more training is needed to help law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and others identify particularly high risk situations.

Sue Meuschke, who serves on the review team and is executive director for the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence, says some of the indicators of a lethal case can include escalating violence, the use of substances, the threats of homicide or suicide, and increased sexual assault.

She says the act of strangulation, specifically, is another major indicator that a deadly outcome is possible, and first responders need guidance on how to gather, and even simply recognize, the evidence.

"There may be evidence in the eyes where someone has been strangled and there has been a rupture of blood vessels in the eyes that you wouldn't necessarily look for otherwise," she explains. "Knowing that you should also check back with the victim if they've indicated that strangulation has happened [because] the bruises may show up in a couple of days, so you could then take pictures."

Meuschke says there's only a small window to collect those injury photos, which are critical for prosecution. Along with victims' advocates like Meuschke, the state review team also includes law enforcement and judicial officers, and it'll be digging in to more than 30 recommendations in the New Year.