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Hartford police department creates response unit to combat domestic violence amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Hartford police are setting aside a 4-officer unit consisting of two during the day and two at night.

HARTFORD, Conn — Officials say domestic violence on the rise as victims is stuck quarantined in their homes, but Hartford police are working to combat that with a new program.

Hartford police say within the past week the city has seen about a 20% spike in domestic violence calls, but says, unfortunately, there may be far more.

"People are being encouraged to stay at home more than in turn can sometimes be a powder keg especially for families that have dealt with domestic violence incidents in the past,” said Lt. Paul Cicero speaking with FOX61 after Mayor Luke Bronin announced a new program within the police department that solely focuses on domestic violence and intimate partner abuse.

Hartford police are setting aside a 4-officer unit consisting of two during the day and two at night.

“We wanted to make sure our officers could respond quickly, we wanted to make sure they could investigate reports thoroughly without having to worry about what other calls coming in,” said Mayor Luke Bronin.

Interval House works with those impacted by domestic violence and they’ve noticed an increase in domestic violence here in Connecticut.

Mary-Jane Foster is the President and CEO of the Interval House, she said, "It's entirely predictable that when you are isolated and in an abusive relationship that the intensity, the frequency of the abuse is going to occur, so we in the Hartford region we've been staying home the last two to three weeks. We expected a spike to come and last week we were hit with a 20% increase in calls."

Foster says now is not the time to be silent, whether someone is being directly impacted by domestic violence or someone knows anybody suffering its best to speak up.

Foster said, "This time of isolation and fear that we are all feeling, this is a time to stay connected, stay connected to your family, to your friends, to your colleagues and particularly if you think you know someone or worry about someone's relationship, stay in touch."

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Lt. Cicero added, "Don't be afraid, please there are several different ways you can contact the Hartford Police Department, several different ways you can contact the Interval House, so we are encouraging everybody please find a way to please contact us and we will do everything in our power to help you out."

According to Hartford Police the department plans on keeping there is no end date to this program, so they will continue to monitor for these type of incidents.

If you or someone you know are worried about safety or find yourself in a domestic violence situation call the 24-hour crisis hotline at 860-527-0550 or statewide at 1-888-774-2900