Local police, physician among 100 men honored for domestic violence work

A local physician and police supervisors from Groton City, New London and Waterford were among the 100 men honored by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence at the organization’s First 100 Plus breakfast event in Cromwell Tuesday morning.

John Foley, a cardiologist from Waterford, received the honor along with Lt. Bruce Lowe of the Groton City Police Department, Sgt. Kevin Barney of the New London Police Department and Lt. Brett Mahoney of the Waterford Police Department.

The 100 men were recognized for their dedication to serving victims of domestic violence and raising awareness about the availability of services. At the event, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy congratulated the honorees and said he supports continuing efforts to improve support and response to issues of domestic violence.

The men from southeastern Connecticut were nominated by Safe Futures, the New London agency that supports domestic violence victims in the region.

“We were looking to identify men in our community who have done things that have improved the circumstances for victims and have been advocates for us as an organization,” said Catherine Zeiner, executive director of Safe Futures.

The three policemen were instrumental in implementing a Lethality Assessment Program in their departments in which officers responding to domestic violence calls ask the victims in serious and repeat cases 11 questions to determine if they are at risk of being killed, according to Zeiner. If the victims are deemed to be in danger, the police immediately put them in touch with Safe Futures.

Lowe, the Groton City lieutenant, said in a phone interview Tuesday that the so-called “LAP” program helps officers get to the heart of the matter and get help for victims.

“It’s definitely going to save lives,” he said. His department recently responded to a call where a husband had cornered his wife in a basement, pointed a shotgun at her and threatened to kill her and himself, Lowe said. The husband is now wearing an ankle bracelet and prohibited from going near the wife, who received services from Safe Futures.

Foley, who just completed a term as president of the Connecticut State Medical Society, has helped train other medical providers to screen patients for domestic violence and make them aware of resources such as Safe Futures, Zeiner said.

She said Foley learned about domestic violence “the hard way,” because his wife, Marie Kenney, was a state trooper in Massachusetts and executive director of that state’s Governor’s Task Force on Domestic Violence.

“Not only does he practice what he preaches, but he has done a lot of training at Backus and other hospitals for his colleagues,” Zeiner said.

Foley, reached by phone Tuesday evening, said when he started practicing medicine, his wife reminded him daily that he was supposed to ask patients whether they are victims of domestic violence. Finally, he told her he would do it, Foley said.

“I was blown away by the number of women who were victims at the moment or knew somebody who was a victim,” Foley said.

Kenney now works for the CCADV, and husband and wife work together to train physicians on domestic violence screening. Foley said that at the breakfast Tuesday morning, it was “cool” to be in a room full of men committed to working against domestic violence.

“When you think about the fact that by definition most victims of domestic violence are women, to solve the problem, you need to get men involved,” Foley said. “If we’re the perpetrators, we need to be part of the solution.”

Zeiner said events like the First 100 Plus breakfast help get the message across that domestic violence is not just a women’s issue.

“It’s a community issue, and men need to get engaged,” she said.

According to the coalition, more than 56,000 victims of domestic violence seek services from the 18 member agencies each year. Over the past 10 years, the state averaged 15 homicides annually resulting from intimate partner violence. Last year, there were 64 near-fatalities resulting from intimate partner violence.

“Even though most men are not part of the problem, they must be part of the solution to prevent domestic violence,” said Karen Jarmoc, CCADV’s executive director. “It is our privilege to recognize these men, who in large and small ways have had a positive impact on the lives of domestic violence victims throughout the state.”

At the event, the coalition launched its new 10x10 Campaign, a male speaker’s bureau in which 10 men each will educate 10 others about healthy relationships and how they can help stop violence before it starts. For more information, go to www.ctcadv.org.

k.florin@theday.com

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