HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville police officers respond to thousands of domestic violence calls each year. When the alert involves a child, they bring along some comforting reinforcement to break down barriers and calm the young victim.
Lieutenant Stacy Bates has seen his share of sad situations while on the Huntsville Police Department.
“A domestic violence call is about the most dangerous thing an officer can go on,” said Lt. Bates.
Whether it’s in a precinct or a police car, officers keep a stuffed safety net near them.
“Not just domestic violence calls, but really anything where there’s a child involved, could be an accident scene where it’s a traumatic situation or responding to an emergency room or a child’s been injured in some sort and we’re having to investigate,” said Lt. Bates when talking about the situations they respond to involving children.
The officers use stuffed animals to keep the little ones calm.
“It’ll not only relax them with the officer but it will de-escalate the stress for them,” said Lt. Bates. “It may calm them down a little bit.”
Fortunately, officers see a big difference when a soft toy is involved.
“A lot of times they’ve never dealt with a police officer, never seen a police officer,” said Lt. Bates. “So, they may be scared, a little bit fearful.”
Huntsville police officers also keep domestic violence packets with them while on patrol.
“It has all types of legal information they might need,” said Lt. Bates.
The packets include everything from obtaining a protection order to obtaining a warrant.
“If they reach out to Crisis Services, they actually have people that will help the victims,” said Lt. Bates.
Lt. Bates said the overall goal is to build trust.
“We do answer a lot of domestic violence calls,” said Lt. Bates. “Unfortunately, a lot of them are related: alcohol is involved, drugs are involved to some extent, and so it’s a bad situation all the way around. Then, when you throw the children in the mix, it’s putting a child in a situation that a child should never have to be exposed to.”
Huntsville police said if you suspect someone is in a dangerous or abusive situation, please speak up. A person can call Crisis Services of North Alabama/HOPE Place at (256)716-1000 in Madison County and 1-800-691-8426 outside of Madison County. The help line is open 24 hours a day. Families can find shelter in HOPE Place.