Responding to domestic violence situations

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It is an image that has become all too familiar as of late. Police, at the front of a house, guns drawn, and trying to get a suspect to come out.

All of it starting with a call to police about a potential domestic violence situation inside.

"Every domestic relationship has the probability, possibility of getting to these levels," said Pat Stein, the Executive Director of the Bolton Refuge House in Eau Claire.

She says standoffs like the one near Chippewa Falls on Monday are often a last resort for the abuser. Perhaps a last ditch effort to control the person they are victimizing.

"It is often to the point where they have nothing else to lose and probably have lost everything," she said.

Stein says already in 2013 they are seeing more people come to the Bolton Refuge House than 2012 and 2011. In fact, she says this year the shelter is consistently a full house and more people are looking for resources.

"The domestics are still occurring for the basic fundamental reasons why they always occur, which is the fact that it's somebody's choice to exert the control or need to have power over another person," she said.

It is also a dangerous situation for police who end up on the other side of the standoff. That includes Robert Bolton, an Eau Claire Police officer killed in the early 80's during a call to a home.

"I think everyone looked at what can we do to give a higher level of safety to our officers," said Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer.

The Eau Claire County Sheriff's Department also has a vehicle called a Bearcat that can be used in dangerous situations. It has a PA system, infrared, and capabilities of lighting up a house.

Sheriff Cramer says agencies will often call on it and the SWAT Team if needed. Another tool during uncertain situations.

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