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Baltimore City officials hold hearing on violence against women

Baltimore City Hall. Credit: WYPR
Baltimore City Hall. Credit: WYPR

A Baltimore City Council committee met Wednesday to discuss what they call an overlooked public health crisis: violence against women.

Col. Richard Worley, of the Baltimore Police Department, said COVID-19 was a “big push” that exacerbated domestic violence.

“People were cooped up in their houses, and we're getting more and more cases,” Worley told the committee. “It shows you the urgency that we need to get ahead of this.”

While lockdowns have lifted, Worley said cases have risen this year. In 2020 there were 1,376 reported cases. In 2021, there were 1,499.

Councilman Ryan Dorsey called street violence against women a “pervasive problem”. He also questioned what the police department is doing to reduce domestic violence among its own officers.

“That is a deeply entrenched culture within police departments across the country,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey said 40% of police officers’ families experience domestic violence. That often cited statistic comes from the National Center for Women and Policing.

Wednesday’s hearing was the committee’s first work session on the issue since June. Officials also highlighted ongoing violence prevention efforts, including more than $1 million in ARPA dollars going to various community based nonprofits that work with affected families.

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.