Commission for WomenJuly 10, 2024

Item #2 Austin Police Department Special Victims Intervention Unit Presentation — original pdf

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APD DOMESTIC VIOLENCE UNIT/ SPECIAL VICTIMS INTERVENTION UNIT (SVIU) Sergeant Tammy Varkony APD Domestic Violence Unit • 2 Sergeants • Unit Management & Logistics • Case Assignment • Review of cleared investigations • SVIU • 16 Detectives Investigate cases • • Collaborate with Prosecutors • Alert SVIU to elevated threats • 1 Victim Services Counselor Supervisor • Case Assignment • Liaison with other agencies • 7 Victim Services Counselors • Contact victims of Family Violence • Safety planning • Coordinate resources to victims • Alert SVIU to elevated threats • 4 Officers (SVIU) • One detective position has been reassigned Investigative support for high-risk cases • • Safety planning support- install cameras, GPS checks • Serve arrest & search warrants • Attend weekly DVHRT meetings Types of Cases Investigated • The DV Unit is responsible for investigating approx. 27 different offenses/ title codes, including: • Any Family / Dating Violence Assaults • i.e. Assault w/ Injury, Aggravated Assault, Agg Assault Strangulation, Agg Assault – Motor Vehicle • Violation of Bond Conditions / Protective Orders • Kidnapping / Agg Kidnapping – Fam / Dating • Stalking (including stranger stalking cases) • Assault on Pregnant Woman • Burglary of Residence - Fam / Dating • Interference w/ Emergency Phone Call – Fam / Dating • Terroristic Threats – Fam / Dating • Unlawful Restraint – Fam / Dating • Injury to Elderly / Disabled – Fam / Dating SVIU MISSION • The SVIU is a plain clothes (no uniforms) investigative support unit under the Domestic Violence Unit. • SVIU’s priority are cases with an ongoing or escalating victim safety risk, or risk to the public. • The unit is comprised of one sergeant, one detective, and four officers. UNIT ORIGIN & PURPOSE • Originally known as CRASH • Established in 2015 with the primary goal of HOMICIDE PREVENTION • By taking a victim-centered approach the unit provides services to victims in all stages, from safety planning and investigative assistance all the way to suspect apprehension and protective order / bond condition enforcement. 6 THE SVIU ROLE IN THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HIGH RISK TEAM (DVHRT) • Two overarching themes of the DVHRT model: If intimate partner homicide is predictable, it should be preventable. The gaps in information are where homicides occur. The SVIU is an innovative model unique to APD that provides a coordinated response to high-risk cases through a The SVIU attends weekly DVHRT meetings and communicates daily with prosecutors, victim services, pre-trial and probation • As a result of this coordination, the SVIU receives multiple requests for assistance weekly which are then triaged based on • 2024 data: As of 5/31/24, DVHRT made 22 requests to SVIU for welfare checks, warrant apprehension, and security cameras • • • • multidisciplinary team. services and other partners. current victim safety risk. for victims. EXAMPLES Safety Planning Investigative Support • Placement of unit owned surveillance cameras • Video canvassing • Counter stalking: GPS & covert tracker checks • Search warrant assistance • Assistance installing security devices such as • On-call for questions about protective orders, door reinforcements, window locks, floodlights bond conditions, and GPS alerts • Zero tolerance enforcement of Protective Order • On-call for sexual assaults involving unknown and Bond Condition violations suspects 8 THE SVIU ROLE IN THE APD SEX CRIMES UNIT • Common overlap between DVU and SCU cases • Primary point of contact for the SCU for stranger rape investigations • Investigative ruses • Victim assistance • Jail call and video visits • Search warrant assistance (residential, buccal, etc.) • Covert DNA collection • Suspect identification (social media investigation, camera • Fugitive apprehension canvassing, etc.) • Surveillance camera installation • Covert surveillance SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS • The SVIU possesses surveillance cameras for use in domestic violence, stalking, and sex crimes related cases (burglary – sexual nature, window peeping, indecent exposure, etc.) • These cameras have been instrumental in assisting investigators in identifying suspects and providing crucial evidence to their cases. SECURITY IMPROVEMENTS 10 • The SVIU has tools and equipment available to upgrade home security for victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sex crimes related cases. • The enhancements include flood lights, cameras, door reinforcements, etc. which may be purchased by APD Victim Services emergency funds BURGLARY OF RESIDENCE – SEXUAL NATURE 23-3370347 Austin Police Department – Special Victims Intervention Unit SYNOPSIS • On December 3, 2023 at 4:05AM officers responded to a Burglary Hotshot. A male suspect entered the residence, violently assaulted a female resident and groped her girlfriend before fleeing the scene. • On-call SVIU was paged to assist with camera canvassing and security improvements to the victims’ home. • The SVIU requested assistance from Victim Services and several items were purchased using VS emergency funds. Several security enhancements were completed as well as installation of cameras and repair to a window damaged by the suspect. • SVIU also assisted with surveillance, suspect apprehension, and search warrant execution. • Suspect turned out to be former romantic partner of one of the victims (DVU/ SCU overlap) ITEMS PURCHASED INTERIOR CAMERA FACING FRONT DOOR INTERIOR CAMERA FACING BACK SLIDING DOOR MOTION SENSOR LIGHT AT BACK PATIO MOTION SENSOR LIGHT ON DRIVEWAY PADLOCK PLACED ON SIDE GATE WIRELESS CAMERA ON FRONT PATIO WIRELESS CAMERA ON SIDE OF HOUSE MOTION SENSOR LIGHT ON SIDE OF HOUSE SECURITY BAR INSTALLED ON REAR SLIDING DOOR REINFORCED LOCK INSTALLED ON FRONT DOOR LOCKS INSTALLED ON GROUND LEVEL WINDOWS WINDOW REMOVED BY SUSPECT REPAIRED DVU/ SVIU ARE UNDER RESOURCED • In 2012, a comprehensive, department wide staffing study was completed by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). PERF completed an analysis of the amount of time spent on each type of case in major APD units, breaking cases down into categories of Contact Only, Less Complicated, Typical, and More Complex (Pg. 39). Factoring in the number of cases handled by each unit, PERF used this data to help determine the total number of investigators that were needed to conduct thorough investigations. Some excerpts from that study are described below: (Note: DVERT = Domestic Violence Emergency Response Team) • Pg. 39 – PERF report: DVU/ SVIU ARE UNDER RESOURCED Presentation title 28 DVU/ SVIU ARE UNDER RESOURCED • Back in 2012, DVU was divided between Domestic Violence (misdemeanor cases) and DVERT (felony cases). The above table indicates a total determined need for 24.8 investigators in the Domestic Violence Unit in order to conduct thorough investigations. That number took into account a total of 7,039 yearly cases. In contrast, in 2022, DVU had 8,007 total yearly cases. The total number of investigators that DVU had in 2012 was 15. Although our caseload has increased by nearly 1,000 yearly cases, we currently have only 16 detectives. • Staffing comparison of APD violent crime units (2012 vs. 2022): Homicide: 12 to 16 Robbery: 12 to 18 Sex Crimes: 11 to 20 Child Abuse: 15 to 17 • In 2022, DV detectives wrote more arrest warrants than detectives in any other violent crimes unit at APD, while also handling a significantly higher caseload than any other violent crimes unit. The Future DV detective staffing and population forecasts: Population Year Detective Staffing Officer Staffing 2000 2008 2013 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2025 2030 656,562 750,525 855,215 900,701 926,426 949,587 967,629 985,504 1,006,727 1,026,833 1,041,722 1,056,827 1,083,948 1,153,409 8 13 15 15 15 15 15 14 14 14 16 15 0 0 0 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 Jeff Engstrom, Senior Planner, Housing & Planning Department, City of Austin. December 2020 2023 Austin Homicides (Data from APD Crime Analysis Unit) APD Violent Crimes Resource Allocations • Caseload number comparisons (2022): • DV- 8,007 • Robbery- 1,422 • Agg Assault- 2,392 • Domestic Violence: 16 detectives • SVIU: 4 officers • Robbery: 18 detectives • Aggravated Assault: 16 detectives • Violent Crimes Task Force (supports Robbery/ Agg Assault): • 8 officers, 2 detectives, 1 sergeant • RISC detectives (support after hours for Robbery/ Agg Assault): • 36 RISC detective positions total (4 vacancies)/ 4 teams (2 nights, 2 evenings), 4 sergeants • RISC SOPs include all aggravated assaults except domestic violence • Other tactical/ field units: • Major Crimes Suppression Unit (OCD)- 8 officers, 1 detective, 1 sergeant • Metro Tactical South Team- 8 officers, 1 corporal, 1 sergeant • Metro Tactical North Team- 8 officers, 1 corporal, 1 sergeant DVU/ SVIU Critical Needs • Third DVU Sergeant, including one position dedicated to SVIU • Additional DVU detectives & SVIU officers • Three permanent non-sworn positions (retired detectives) • Second Sergeant car • Additional Detective cars; same reasons as Sex Crimes Unit per PERF • Four “cool” cars for SVIU (non-police vehicles)- used for surveillance/ field work, • One car assigned per member • Training budget • SVIU budget separated from DVU (currently $800 for all 20 employees) • Safety Equipment: Two Mobile Data Computers for SVIU (four if unit is expanded) • Long term: New office space is required (inaccessible to victims, no space for expansion, serious infrastructure issues, poor facilities) 33 CRITICAL NEEDS (SVIU) Vehicles • On-Call • Schedule Modifications • Significant Incidents • Currently, the unit has only two (unmarked) vehicles. One vehicle was just wrecked. Staffing • SVIU is the only tactical unit without an assigned full-time supervisor • Until recently, SVIU had no assigned detective • DVU reorganization June 2024 to assign one of the 16 detectives to SVIU • Supervisory assistance • Faster response to protective order and bond condition violations • SVIU needs additional positions (detectives and/or officers) • Sgt. and Det. also lacking assigned vehicles • Unit operates in 2 person teams at a minimum. Having 1 person out for backfill, vacation etc. reduces unit capabilities by 50% • DVU needs additional detectives THANK YOU Sergeant Tammy Varkony