Statewide Database to Track Domestic Violence
Posted June 30, 2007
Raleigh, N.C. — Activists hope that a new law that takes effect Sunday will push the General Assembly to consider tougher laws against domestic violence.
The law requires local authorities and the Attorney General's Office to create a statewide database.
The database will Include homicide and protective orders related to domestic violence. It will also make available any information about the relationship between domestic-violence victims and suspects.
"Any patterns that we can see from the data the state would collect would help us with our investigations," said Lt. John Parker of the Clayton Police Department.
Advocates hope this new law will help prevent deaths such as the murder of Rhonda Barnes.
"It helps people understand the seriousness of domestic violence. It helps people understand the lethality," said Marie Brodie with the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The Coalition has been tracking domestic violence-related homicides since 2002. Last year, it recorded 79 homicides.
Police have arrested her ex-boyfriend Dennis Shaw for killing Barnes inside her Clayton home in 2006.
Barnes filed numerous police reports accusing Shaw of vandalizing her home and car. Two days before her death, she told police she feared for her life.
However, Barnes never took out a restraining order against him in North Carolina. Without such records, police can take little action, said officers.
"Until there is evidence, there is not a lot we can do," Parker said.
Under the new law, the Attorney General's Office will annually report the database's findings to a legislative committee.
The N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence hopes that the new database will help push the General Assembly to make tougher penalties for people who violate protective orders.
"It will be more thorough for one thing, and this will give this a lot of credibility coming from the Attorney General's office as well," said Brodie.