Family violence agencies seek collaboration - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Family violence agencies seek collaboration

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It seems like it happens more often.   One family member kills another.

Today, local experts looked at the issues in the 5th Preventing Family Violence workshop.

Earlier this year, Mauricio Cumbrera was found guilty of two counts of second degree murder for shooting his wife and stepdaughter, who he also ran over with a car.  The case is a grim reminder of how bad family situations can escalate to murder.

How to prevent such family violence is why they hold the annual workshop. Beth Meeks with the state Coaltion Against Domestic Violence says Louisiana's domestic homicide rate is about 40 % higher than the nation.

"We talk a lot about encouraging women to leave.  The reality is that most of these homicides are occurring while the woman is separated or after she's left this offender.  So clearly, she's doing everything we're instructing her to do.  The issue is who's instructing these offenders that it's not okay to put your hands on your family.  Because someone leaves you does not mean you own them and you have the right to kill them. That's really where the messaging needs to start," said Meeks.

She says there are ways to reduce domestic murders, such as getting offenders to court more quickly. Dr. Randall Lockwood with the ASPCA says collaboration between agencies is  key.

"For example for an animal control officer or cruelty investigator, if they're going on a scene, where they suspect animal abuse or neglect, they need to be paying attention to what's happening with the people in that situation.  Is there perhaps domestic violence going on in that situation.  Is there child abuse or elder abuse.  For the social service agencies responding, they need to be asking questions about what's happening with the animals," said Lockwood.

Those attending hope to make Calcasieu Parish a safer community, especially for those who have no voice.

The theme of this year's 5th annual workshop was putting ideas into action for change. They held afternoon work sessions to create plans for the future.

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