Orlando police: Domestic violence cases drop 22 percent



ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando's plan to prevent domestic violence seems to be working.

WFTV obtained new information from Orlando police that shows a significant drop in domestic violence cases.

At the same time, the number of victims seeking shelter went up.

Ingrid Cruz's mother was murdered by her pastor in Puerto Rico -- shot seven times.

"He was in love with her. She decided not to have any relationship with him, and he shot and killed her," Cruz said.

When Cruz moved to Orlando, she noticed domestic violence was a growing problem here, too -- responsible for one in three homicides last year -- so Cruz decided to try to help prevent more killings.

She volunteers with a program started by Orlando Police Chief Paul Rooney, who thought domestic violence numbers would drop if more victims knew how to get help.

"And that's sometimes all the person needs is that little push," Cruz said.

Orlando police and hundreds of volunteers put hangers on doorknobs that list domestic violence warning signs and the crisis hotline number.

They targeted neighborhoods with the most domestic violence calls.

Together they hit more than 13,000 apartments this spring. Numbers show it opened the door for victims to get help.

Within 72 hours, calls to the crisis hotline doubled.

It didn't stop there.

During the first six months of this year, domestic violence cases dropped 22 percent in Orlando.

At the same time, the number of people seeking shelter at Harbor House went up by 28 percent.

"It's a huge decrease, but I don't want to take credit where credit might not be due," Cruz said.

Harbor House CEO Carol Wick gives OPD and the city the credit.

"If the leadership had not been there, (we) would see an incredible increase in the number of homicides in Orlando," Wick said.

Wick said Orlando police encourage people to call 911 if they see a situation with their neighbors escalating.

"It really is working. We are seeing a decrease countywide," Wick said.

That's what motivates Cruz to keep volunteering. She'll be hanging fliers on doorknobs again next Saturday.

"I feel like I am making a difference in someone else's life," Cruz said.

Orlando police and Harbor House are still looking for volunteers to hang the fliers on doorknobs Saturday, Sept. 29.

MORE INFORMATION:  Stop Abuse Door Hanging Event