Local leaders and law enforcement address domestic abuse epidemic in Pima County

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse serves 16 new victims of domestic abuse every day, according to Ed Mercurio-Sakwa, the CEO of Emerge!.

The center gathered the Pima County Attorney's Office and local law enforcement for a press conference Wednesday morning to address the epidemic in Pima County.

"It is a really powerful statement to show this unity and show this solidarity that this is not just a victim services agency issue but that law enforcement and the justice department realize that they have a responsibility as well and commitment to make sure victim safety is a top priority," he said. 

Mercurio-Sakwa says research shows one in ten cases gets reported. 

"That has to do a lot with the shame and guilt and damage, self-esteem and taking in messages that it was the victim's fault and they start to believe that and they don't think about reaching out and reporting it," he said.

Already this year Tucson Police Sergeant Mark Dana says they have increased their domestic violence unit by three detectives and a sergeant. 

Sgt. Dana says this allows the unit to provide closer supervision of investigations and allow more follow-ups. 

"If you have been a victim of domestic violence you are a human being," he said. "We are going to treat you as such and assist and investigate that crime to the best of our ability regardless of your immigration status."

The community is encouraged to wear purple tomorrow to symbolize solidarity with victims of abuse and let victims know they are not alone.

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