It’s one of the most dangerous calls an officer can go on – domestic violence.  

“If you have been around more than a few days, you’ve probably answered a domestic call,” said Sgt. P.J. Hardy with the Lebanon Police Department.  

Domestic violence calls happen daily all across Middle Tennessee.  

“We see them all the time. That’s an everyday situation,” Cheatham County Deputy Dahianna Arguello said, adding, “It’s one of the most dangerous calls we go to. Many officers in the line of duty have lost their lives to domestic calls.” 

“They are dangerous calls for officers,” Gallatin Police Captain Kate Novitsky said. “You never know what’s going on inside that home when you get a domestic call.”  

Sgt. Hardy added, “It’s one of the most dangerous situations you can go into.  You got a lot of emotion. We typically send multiple officers, usually at least two officers because of the level of danger that exists there.”  

In her 27 years of crime fighting, Captain Novitsky said there have been some positive changes in how officers respond to domestic violence calls.  

“I think the biggest change we’ve seen is a collaborative effort between community agencies and law enforcement to address the issue,” she said. “We share information now. I think shelters are more willing to provide us access to victims so we can do follow-ups and provide them other services available to them. We now assist victims with obtaining orders of protection and in the past, we didn’t do that.”  

According to Sgt. Hardy, one of the biggest changes in domestic violence calls came when the law changed in the mid-2000s. 

“Before the law kind of gave the officer discretion if you see something [and] you can make an arrest, you should. But the verbiage changed that if you can determine a primary aggressor the law says you shall. That’s a very strong word. It gives us the order to, it takes the onus off of us. If we see any evidence that there was a primary aggressor and determine who that is, we make an arrest,” he explained.  

Deputy Arguello told News 2 the latest trend she has noticed is an escalation in domestic violence issues among teenagers.  

“We have this young love, they love each other, they’re not going to talk about why boyfriend pushed them or took their phone away,” she said. “Jealously. There is the thing that pops up because of love, I love them, I won’t leave them. No, love is not like that. If they love you, they won’t put their hands on you, call you names. If they love you, they won’t hold you against your will and tell you you cannot leave or take your phone away from you.” 

When it comes to domestic violence, all three officers have the same message – if your relationship is abusive – get out, seek help and don’t delay. If you or someone you know needs help, call the Tennessee Statewide Domestic Violence Helpline at 1-800-356-6767

To view all the stories featured in our “Domestic Violence: Holding Abusers Accountable” special, click here

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