RCMP, women’s shelter to share success story at international conference

Collaboration between Red Deer’s RCMP and women’s shelter to deal with domestic violence will be one of the topics discussed at an international conference in Washington, D.C., next week.

Collaboration between Red Deer’s RCMP and women’s shelter to deal with domestic violence will be one of the topics discussed at an international conference in Washington, D.C., next week.

Representatives from Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter, Red Deer City RCMP’s domestic crime unit, and the domestic violence court program will make a presentation at the second annual World Conference of Women’s Shelters, Feb. 27 to March 1.

Ian Wheeliker, executive director of Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter, said Red Deer’s successful partnership is unique.

“Historically, shelters and police have really been in an adversarial position,” said Wheeliker on Thursday.

“In this partnership with Red Deer City RCMP, they’ve really become sensitive to the needs of victims and we as the shelter have really become sensitive to the legal issues and the investigative issues the police face.

“There has been a lot of learning on both sides. That’s what we’re going to share with the world. How we built the relationship, how we’re sustaining it, and the outcomes we’re seeing for the victims.”

About 10,000 domestic violence victims have been supported through the partnership and no victim involved in the program has been murdered.

“We’ve seen domestic violence deaths in the community since then, but none of those cases were cases that came forward to either the shelter or the police.”

The domestic crime unit was developed about seven years ago in response to a murder-suicide that killed three members of a Red Deer family.

In September 2003, Josif Fekete gunned down his wife, Blagica, and their three-year-old son Alex before killing himself.

A social worker from the shelter is part of the domestic crime unit.

This really strengthens the relationship between the two agencies, Wheeliker said.

“This the first time within the RCMP that a social worker, a civilian non-RCMP member, actually ever worked elbow-to-elbow with an RCMP member on an actual police file.”

Wheeliker said looking at the same file through two different sets of eyes is key, and it’s something that needs to be duplicated at the regional level.

“There are opportunities to work with the municipalities and the counties to make application to the province for a dedicated police officer and there are opportunities through the Safe Communities Fund to make application for the social-work piece.”

People from about 100 countries will attend the conference organized by U.S. National Network to End Domestic Violence.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com