Sergeant in charge of Vulnerable Persons Section, Surrey RCMP
Corporal in charge of Domestic Violence Unit, Surrey RCMP
Sgt. Holly Turton is in charge of the Vulnerable Persons Section at the Surrey RCMP and oversees some of the highest-risk domestic violence cases. She works alongside Cpl. YJ Leboulch who oversees the day-to-day operations of the newly integrated Surrey RCMP Domestic Violence Unit (DVU).
Surrey Domestic Violence Unit (DVU) co-locates police, victim services, and a child protection worker. Together, they respond to highest risk cases of domestic violence in which women are at greater risk for seriously bodily injury or even death.
Holly is everything you’d expect from an experienced investigator – sharp and analytical. Yet she says that her years of experience did not prepare her to work with victims of domestic violence. “There is a misconception that we’re out there to charge people,” explains Holly. This often discourages women who’ve experienced violence from going to the police for help. “The goal is not getting a conviction” she says, “it’s protecting the victim’s safety.”
“Ours is a proactive approach,” says Holly. Investigating officers regularly meet with perpetrators, perform random curfew checks and make sure they are adhering to parole or Court conditions. If a perpetrator gets a new girlfriend – they warn her of his violent past. Holly wants to send a clear message: “What you’re doing is not okay, and you’re being watched. I hope this helps women see that they can do it alone. But we are always there to help when they need us,” Holly says.
YJ echoes Holly’s message. After 17 years working with the RCMP, YJ was recently transferred to the position of Corporal in charge of the Domestic Violence Unit including 4 constables, 2 victim service workers and 1 child protection worker. She describes the Domestic Violence Unit as team that women can count on. “We’re a team standing behind her so that she’s not alone. We tell him that You’re not able to continue that behaviour with her anymore, because we’re helping her. YJ is clear: “We don’t work to put somebody in jail, we work to make the violence stop.”
Like Holly, she, too, is sharp and analytical. She also understands the need to bring compassion and understanding to police work. “I came to Domestic Violence Unit because this is my passion, this is where I think I'm best suited. Every file I go to - I have an interest in. It is personal for me.”
YJ learned the impact that police could have long before she ever joined the RCMP. A police officer asked her loved one a simple question: “Do you deserve to be beaten like that?” These words inspired her loved one to change her life. For YJ, these words highlighted the impact that she could have as a police officer.
YJ talks about the need to be patient with women who are fleeing violence. “It is understanding that sometimes the victim does not want to do what the police want her to do. They may not be honest with us - or they may recant - or they may change their mind and not come to court at the last minute…it is just having the patience to deal with women that may not be prepared to have a change in their family situation.”
“If the police are involved it’s often her last resort to get help. If we can help a woman to stay safe or not get killed - I think that’s our duty.”
Both Holly and YJ recognize, however, that the police are only part of a woman’s safety network. YJ leads Surrey’s Interagency Case Assessment Team (ICAT). On highest risk files, YJ explains, “Anybody who may have a connection with the victim or offender will come together.” As a group they determine the next steps. There is constant communication between the police and other agencies involved, as well as with the victim and offender. Explaining why openening the lines of communication between police and community based service organizations is so important, Holly says that, "We can only enhance our own work by working together."