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Police To Repeat Offenders: Let Us Help

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
Joel is an Emmy Award winning journalist with more than 15 year...
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BEDFORD (CBSDFW.COM) - He’s a former soldier who suffers the effects of PTSD and recent marriage problems. To protect his identity we’ll just call him Chuck.

“Losing my family like that, no one can ever really explain what you’re going through,” Chuck said.

Police know Chuck. They’ve visited on disturbance calls. He’s what police refer to as a repeat victim, people who often have disorders who police see more than once a year.

Bedford found that 9% of the people they dealt with were responsible for 20% of all their cases.

“Especially on the domestic violence side, repeated offenses against the same person,” said Bedford Police Chief Roger Gibson. “And on the mental health side, the same person being hospitalized over and over.”

Thursday, Chuck received a welcome visit from two specially trained officers and a counselor. They’re three of the four members of the Repeat Victimization Unit. They’re here to listen.

“What we do is we try to reach out to those individuals by providing them guidance, setting them up with community resources, develop a rapport with them, try to get personally involved in their lives and let them know the police are here to help,” said Corporal Shane Bean, supervisor of the unit.

Chuck and the officers sat comfortably in Chuck’s living room.

“You still working out?” one of the officers asked. “You still taking care of yourself?”

The three officers and the counselor who comprise the unit establish bonds with people. They make sure the people are on their medications, they talk to them and check on them routinely to let them know they’re not alone. The goal was to break the cycle of arrest, release and repeat. Even though the people may have had problems with the law before, the RVU refers to them as victims of mental illness, disorders or environments where they weren’t getting the help they needed.

And after one year, Bedford found almost 80% of the people who were repeat victims in 2012 did not have another police call 2013.

Potentially, that cut the total number of police calls by up to 19%.

And people like Chuck found the officers brought them hope.

“Every day gets better, too,” Chuck told the members of the unit. “Every day just gradually gets better. I have some down days. But that’s life!”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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