Wareham Police report 38 domestic disturbances in one month

Feb 3, 2019

Wareham Police responded to 38 calls for domestic disturbances in December, highlighting the severity of an issue that Acting Police Chief John Walcek calls a “double-edged sword.”

Massachusetts state laws forbid the release of any particulars of these incidents, including the identities of those involved, and as such Walcek said cases of domestic abuse go largely unreported and unrepresented.

“It’s an extremely private and personal matter,” he said. “And while we want to continue to respect that privacy, we also want to make our residents more aware of the issues officers are seeing on a daily basis.”

Walcek said the 38 calls received by Wareham Police in December resulted in 17 people being arrested, criminally summoned or placed into protective custody.

Calls of this nature are both time consuming and dangerous according to Walcek, with a minimum of two officers required for each disturbance by state law.

“These calls are often happening back to back or simultaneously,” Walcek added. “So it really ties up the force when there’s an accident or other emergency.”

In addition to making arrests, Walcek said officers responding to domestic disturbances are also tasked with helping the victims to file legal documents, such as restraining orders and child abuse forms.

In June of 2018, the Wareham Police Department welcomed its first domestic violence intern, to help lighten the load.

A student at Quincy College, Cecila Brito was able to work with domestic violence victims in Wareham one-on-one to file documents and accesses resources such as women’s shelters, freeing up officers for other duties.

However, the grant that supported Brito’s position at the department only lasted for three months. By the end of August, officers were once again juggling all aspects of domestic calls.

With two villages, miles of coastline, diverse demographics and a large summer population, Walcek said the town provides additional policing challenges to the department as well.

Since 2000, the Wareham’s population has increased 10 percent from 20,355 to 22,472 people according to U.S. Census Data. In that time, the police department’s call volume has more than doubled.

Sixteen years ago, officers responded to 27,768 total calls while last year that figure was 59,808.

“Our call volume is massive, but like any other community, there’s a lot that can’t be put out to the public,” Walcek said. “Still, we want to advocate for victims as best we can. The Wareham Police Department is a very busy place, and people deserve to know what it is we’re doing.”