By Lea Terry
Midwest City Beacon
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Oklahoma, and at the most recent Del City City Council meeting, Police Chief Lloyd Berger offered several updates about how the city’s police department is leading the way and ensuring its entire team is prepared to handle even the most challenging calls.
Berger highlighted two key programs, including the department’s efforts to effectively respond to domestic violence calls and mental health related incidents. The department recently attended the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety’s annual conference and banquet, where Del City 911 dispatcher Heather Mitchell was honored for her handling of a domestic violence call. The city had previously honored her for her skill in handling the incident.
“Now she’s getting state recognition on that, and we’re very proud of that,” Berger said.
Berger also noted the efforts of Darla Cheek with Mid-Del Youth and Family. He described her as an advocate for victims of domestic violence, and said that his officers work with her on a daily basis.
“I really don’t know how we did it before when we didn’t have her,” Berger said.
The department also partners with Palomar, an Oklahoma City-based Family Justice Center that assists victims of crimes like domestic abuse, stalking, trafficking and elder abuse.
“We’ve been told that we are kind of the leaders in the state for domestic violence response, on how to investigate and prosecute,” Berger said. “I hope we are.”
The department has visited fellow police departments in Lawton and Durant to share with them how Del City is responding to domestic violence so they can mirror the city’s programs and enhance their own responses.
In addition to its efforts to more effectively respond to domestic violence incidents, the department is also training its officers to respond to other challenging situations. So far, 80 percent of the force has been through crisis intervention training, which helps them address mental health related calls, and the department is on track to have 100 percent participation by spring. The department also conducts active shooter training, bringing in officers from other metro police departments to assist and train alongside Del City’s officers.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the council voted to begin receiving a monthly update from the police chief about city and police department events and news.