Conference scheduled to address violence, increasing murder numbers in Lawton

Conference scheduled to address violence, increasing murder numbers in Lawton

LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Carl Johnson’s double murder charge brings the 2019 total to 19 homicides.

William White, with Comanche County Violence Prevention said according to Police Chief James Smith, violent crime is on the decline, but the increase in murders, and more specifically those involving families is the most pressing concern.

White said the last time the homicide numbers were this close was 2012, but dealing with the problem will be different this time.

"They were predominantly gang-related murders, and how you address that is much different than addressing than the rash we had in 2019, because most of them were domestic. So, we have to target families."

Kerrie Mathews with New Directions, a Marie Detty Shelter for Domestic Violence said the increase in domestic violence is apparent, and those situations are often the most volatile.

“It’s about power and control, and the loss of that can make the abusive person very angry, and very out of control. It takes someone an average of 7-10 times to leave a violent relationship, and that’s if they are able to get out,” said New Directions Program Director Kerrie Mathews.

Why don’t you just leave? That’s a question Mathews said gets asked frequently, and the typical answer is that it’s hard to leave someone you love, even if the situation has become dangerous, or life-threatening.

“Survivors don’t recognize violence the same way we would outside looking in. They know things are bad, there may have been threats that things would happen, but they keep it a secret it because they are ashamed,” said Mathews.

To fight this going forward, the city is hosting a Violence Reduction Conference to address what the community can do to reverse the increasing murder trend.

“We are going to assess what we have here, what resources are available, what services do we have that address those problems, provide counseling, and opportunities, and agencies are lacking,” said White.

“Studies have shown that with most of the people who have lost their lives to domestic violence have never reached out for help," said Mathews.

For details on the conference, check out this interview with William White during the 4 p.m. newscast -

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