Florence County sees spike in domestic calls as more stay home

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FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – Deputies in Florence County have watched a spike in domestic calls as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“We’re probably at 30 percent higher rate than we were at this time last year,” Chief Deputy Glen Kirby said. “I attribute it to the COVID-19 virus because people are stuck at home.”

Chief Kirby said that while calls are up, the same isn’t necessarily true for arrests.

“We’ve been getting good response from people,” he said. “They realize, ‘you know what, I should have let it get this far.’ So we haven’t made any more arrests than we normally do. We’re going to arrest if there’s a violent act or some kind of assault.”

Still, deputies face new challenges when responding to these kinds of calls.

“We’re having to deal with it in a whole different way,” Kirby said. “Usually we ask them to separate for the night. One goes stays somewhere else. You can’t do that now.”

Similar reports have surfaced nationwide during the pandemic.

“They’ve got children at home, plus folks have possibly lost their employment,” Exeutive Director of the Pee Dee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault Ellen Hamilton said. “You’ve got a real recipe for family conflict.”

Hamilton emphasized the importance of finding ways to relieve stress and find space.

“It might be separating,” she said. “Walking outside. It might be music. It might be writing. But hollering and screaming at each other rarely solves anything.”

You can learn more about the Pee Dee Coalition, which offers a 24-hour hotline, here.

Find the link to the National Domestic Violence Hotline here.

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