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The Houston Police Department has launched phase two of its campaign to get ministers involved in the effort to stop family violence in the home. HPD sponsored a training session for the ministers today, as Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.
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Ministers have been brought into the family violence
equation because they have more direct contact with families in crisis than anyone else. About 200 ministers of all races, ethnicities, faiths and denominations turned out for the training, where HPD Assistant Chief Vicki King told them family violence is the root cause of most of the crime in this country, and it's the worst domestic problem they as ministers will ever confront. "Every 25 minutes, 47 people become the victim of family violence. In the state of Texas, every 25 minutes, eight people become victims of family violence, and in the city of Houston, every 25 minutes, one person becomes the victim of family violence. That is over 31 thousand victims a year."Police Chief Harold Hurtt told the ministers that he's committed to stopping all violence, but family violence in particular because he's seen the brutal and deadly results of it up close so many times over his career in law enforcement. Hurtt said he believes it's possible to prevent violence in the home by intervening before situations get out of hand, and ministers, by virtue of their special standing in society can help. "We can lick this thing. We can make a difference. We can be a model for the rest of America. And I appreciate your commitment because we cannot allow this problem to continue." The ministers spent the day with experts learning how to recognize family violence when they see it and what to do about it, for the families and for the abusers. Dr. Sandra Murphy of the Fair Care Center, a victim of violent disfiguring abuse herself, said ministers have to do more than just preach to their parishoners. "And I think it's important that when we begin to minister and/or counsel someone, we need to be in a position that we also have the proper tools, the proper information, the proper assessment tools, to meet the needs of those populations, because we can't just sit down and do like we used to do, sit across the table and give them the scripture."HPD was joined at the training by the Houston Area Women's Center, the Fair Care Center Inc., the Children's Assessment Center, Aid to Victims of Domestic Violence and the Harris County District Attorney's Office. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.