WAAY-31 I-Team explores the idea of a domestic violence registry

Numbers updated earlier this year from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency revealed domestic violence numbers from 2015, the most recent year available.

Posted: Nov. 7, 2017 1:03 PM
Updated: Nov. 7, 2017 1:03 PM

(Note: This story originally aired in February 2017.)
Numbers updated earlier this year from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency revealed domestic violence numbers from 2015, the most recent year available.

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There were 3,936 domestic violence cases in 2015 deemed to be "violent," and 33,324 cases considered to be a domestic simple assault.


Those numbers lead the WAAY-31 I-Team to ask why there is not a domestic violence registry in Alabama? A central database for the state to track those who were arrested and convicted of domestic violence, perhaps preventing there from being future victims.

"We really don't see the need for a domestic violence registry," said Elizabeth Moore with One Place of the Shoals. Established by the Lauderdale County District Attorney's Office, One Place is truly a one-stop-shop for information pertaining to domestic violence - how to get a retraining order, where to turn for shelter, how to seek legal advice, and so on.

"We're all about the victim," said Moore. She said her concern with any kind of publicly accessible database would be revealing the name or personal information of a victim. She also worries a victim may end up on the registry if he or she fights back against their attacker.

She brought up the idea of both parties obtaining a restraining order, asking, "whose name would appear on the list? You could have a longtime victim whose name now appears on that list."

We then took the idea of the registry to police. Lieutenant Proncey Robertson with Decatur PD revealed the ambiguity associated with the term "domestic violence."

"There is such a wide variety of reasons why someone might be arrested for domestic violence, or be associated with the attacker of victim," said Robertson.

He said in Alabama whenever there is a prior relationship between two people, and there is some kind of incident - physical or even mental - it would likely fall under the heading of "domestic violence."

This could range from one spouse attacking the other, to a fight between siblings, an altercation between parent and child, or even a physical confrontation between college roommates who haven't seen each other in years, but suddenly find themselves in a physical fight.

Because of that wide range of issues, Robertson worries just because a person's name were to appear on a registry that it might not give an accurate picture of what transpired.

Robertson said the same can be said about the sex offenders registry. He pointed out the multitude of reasons someone can land on that list, and how it might not always give a truly accurate picture of what transpired.

Moore posed another potential problem.

"Just because someone isn't on that list, we wouldn't want someone to have a false sense of security."

She also said it is crucial for people to recognize the early warning signs of abuse - mental or physical. These include a person wanting to get very serious very quickly, or someone looking to isolate a person from his or her family or friends.

Both Robertson and Moore stressed the important of asking for help, and then following through once a report is made for your safety and the safety of your family.

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