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April 22, 2015

Voices of Change in the Surrey RCMP

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1001","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"480","style":"width: 250px; float: left; height: 250px; ","width":"480"}}]]Dave Attfield, Operations Officer for Surrey RCMP, proudly speaks out against domestic violence. Dave leads the front line General Duty members, as well as Surrey RCMP’s Integrated Domestic Violence Unit. At the recent launch of the Ministry of Child and Family Development’s #saysomething campaign, he shared his insight and experience to increase the safety of women and children fleeing violence. In his speech, Dave reminded us that domestic violence isn’t a problem for police alone – it is a problem for all of us.

Each one of us knows someone whose life has been impacted by violence, and we all have a responsibility to speak out and lend support however we can.

After 22 years of service, Dave understands the complexity of domestic violence better than most.  

“Our Integrated Domestic Violence Unit is made up of RCMP members, community and police-based victim service workers, and we will soon be joined by a MCFD Social Worker. Together, the team provides a coordinated response to incidences of domestic violence and works with victims and families to break the cycle of violence before it spirals further downward. This involves offering support for these people to make what can be profoundly difficult changes in their lives and start anew, creating safety plans for families, closely monitoring high risk offenders, and pro-actively working with those offenders and their partners, with a primary focus on offender accountability and behaviour. Over the past year, government has taken significant action on domestic violence – including the commitment of Civil Forfeiture funding to support vulnerable women and families through Integrated Domestic Violence Units such as ours. “

Yet Dave knows that for every call for help he and his team respond to, many others go without the support that they need. Dave reflects on a typical week for his team:

“We went to 12 calls, not a particularly busy week. But there should have been another 36 calls because, statistically, only 1 in 4 victims report. I wonder how those touched by those 36 cases are doing right now? I wonder when the call will finally come and what we will find when we arrive at the scene? Of the 12 calls we did receive, there were a couple of serious cases– a woman pushed from a moving vehicle by her partner; and a woman choked to unconsciousness by a man she knew. Two police officers were assaulted when trying to intervene. But most happened within families and relationships that were struggling long and hard with financial issues, alcohol use, depression and other challenges that so many people face.”

He understands that, for many women experiencing violence, the support they need is close to home:

“They all have friends, neighbours, classmates and co-workers.”

For Dave, this means that we all have a responsibility and an opportunity to lend support when we see domestic violence.

“I was asked to tell you what signs to look for. The thing is, I think we already know: the arguments heard in the night; upset children at 2am; sunglasses worn on cloudy days; confidences to friends sworn to secrecy; the vague remark at work that was really a cry for help. Just think how we might change things by lending an ear, a hand, a shoulder? I know there have been discussions about the Surrey RCMP needing more resources. It’s true. We need you: the friends, neighbours, classmates and co-workers to join us and our partner agencies, to stand with us. I vow to “Say Something” to make BC a safer place. I ask that you all do the same.”

Dave vowed to say something to make BC a safer place, and he’s kept this promise. Dave shared his the learning and insight he’s gained through his 22 years of service as part of our Faces of Courage project. Read and share his story with your family and friends. Be a voice for change. 

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