Haslam to focus on reducing domestic violence rate

Haslam to focus on reducing domestic violence rate

December 6th, 2012 by Associated Press in Local - Breaking News

Gov. Bill Haslam speaks at a conference on public safety in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. The Republican governor said domestic violence accounts for about half of all crimes committed in the state.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday that while the crime rate is showing an overall decline in Tennessee, instances of aggravated assault, prescription drug abuse and domestic violence remain major concerns for his administration.

The Republican governor said at a meeting of more than 400 public safety officials that domestic violence accounts for about half of all crimes committed in the state each year.

"If you look at the chart this year in terms of total crime we really show good progress on everything except domestic assault," Haslam told reporters after speaking to the group.

"We're already at the bottom end of states in terms of rankings there," he said. "So we're going to want to focus that more."

Haslam this year introduced and signed into law a measure to require mandatory jail time for repeat convictions for domestic violence. He said it's too soon to tell if the change has made a significant difference, but that there's reason to be optimistic.

"I've got to believe that will have an impact as we move forward," he said. "It's a substantial message that if you're a repeat offender, you're going to go to jail regardless of who you are."

The governor said several members of his Cabinet will continue to work with law enforcement to seek ways to reduce violent crimes and drug abuse.

"If you look at the drug-related numbers of those assaults, it's pretty high number," he said. "There's a mental health component for some of those as well."