Police are encountering more domestic violence related to the sluggish economy, a national survey of law enforcement agencies finds.
The review, part of a continuing examination of how economic conditions are affecting law enforcement by the Police Executive Research Forum, found that 56% of the 700 responding agencies reported that the poor economy is driving an increase in domestic conflict, up from 40% of agencies in a similar survey in 2010.
Domestic violence is not a separate category of crime tracked in the FBI's annual crime report, which has recorded a sustained decline in overall violence since the financial collapse in 2008. But the survey concludes that police are responding to more reports of domestic incidents, regardless of whether charges are filed.
In Camden, N.J., police responded to 9,100 domestic incidents in 2011, up from 7,500 calls in 2010.
Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson said it was "impossible'' to separate the economy from the domestic turmoil in the city where unemployment is 19%.
Thomson said domestic-related aggravated assaults increased nearly 10% in 2011 from levels in 2010. The chief said the department has been tracking the calls closely because of the time and personnel they draw from a force that has been depleted in the past two years with layoffs of about 200 employees, another consequence of the poor economy.
"When stresses in the home increase because of unemployment and other hardships, domestic violence increases," Thomson said. "We see it on the street."