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Domestic violence related assaults remain a concern in Milwaukee

Aggravated assault numbers continue to rise in Milwaukee, largely because of a 48 percent increase in domestic violence-related assaults from 2011 to 2012, according to the Milwaukee Police Department.

The numbers, released by MPD in February, indicate that although crime as a whole has decreased, violent crime continues to see a heavy spike, especially in aggravated assault.

“The recent increases in some categories clearly illustrates that work still needs to be done, but I’m encouraged that greater outreach and collaboration in the area of domestic violence prevention may have increased citizen confidence,” MPD Chief Edward Flynn said in a statement about the most recent crime data. “It appears that this confidence is leading to more reporting.”

Marquette Department of Public Safety Captain Russell Shaw, however, said domestic abuse and aggravated assault remain two completely separate issues. He said what separates domestic violence from aggravated assault is the relationship aspect involved in the harm done to the victim.

“Domestic abuse is generally looked at as two people involved in an intimate relationship and is a pattern of behavior which involves the abuse by one partner against another,” Shaw said. “Aggravated assault is a serious offense and is the unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting serious bodily injury.”

“As far as the campus is concerned, very few cases of domestic abuse are reported to DPS annually,” Shaw said. “Most assaults reported to DPS are misdemeanor batteries that usually incur minor injuries and are student-on-student related crimes.”

The issue of domestic violence has been sensitive as of late in the Milwaukee area.

Jennifer Sebena, a Wauwatosa police officer, was killed by her husband while she was on duty last December. Despite this, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund declined to include Sebena because she was a victim of domestic abuse.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wrote a letter to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund asking it to reconsider its initial decision.

“Officer Sebena’s death was very personal to me as she was on duty – patrolling the neighborhood where I live with my family in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin – on the night she was killed,” Walker wrote. “Officer Sebena was protecting the citizens of Wauwatosa on December 24, 2012 when she was ambushed. It should not matter who committed the murder as the act was taken against a police officer on duty.”

An online petition on Change.org has more than 16,000 signatures collected as of Monday in an effort to get Sebena’s name on the memorial in Washington, D.C. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund will reconvene Wednesday to reassess the decision.

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