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Dangerous domestic violence calls highlight need for reform, former police chief says

Two law enforcement officers died after being shot in unrelated incidents.

JACKSON COUNTY, Ga. — *Note: The video above aired before news of the two deaths.

Two law enforcement officers died Monday after being shot while responding to two different domestic violence calls last week.

Now, a nationally renowned public safety expert with ties to Atlanta is saying both shootings highlight the need for police reform.

"What comes in as a domestic violence for arguing, by the time police get there, you never know what it may have escalated to," Dr. Cedrick Alexander said. 

He isn’t involved in the investigation into the shootings that killed Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy Lena Marshall and Henry County Police Officer Paramhans Desai, but the former Dekalb County police chief added that police officers respond to these dangerous situations every day.

Credit: Provided
Henry County Police Officer Paramhans Desai

"They do the job courageously, they respond very courageously, but they can be ambushed, they can be assaulted approaching a scene, something sudden may happen that creates injury to an officer," Dr. Alexander added.

Henry County Police and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said the officer and deputy were both responding to domestic violence calls, which Dr. Alexander said are historically dangerous situations.

"To this day, calls for service around domestic violence have been the leading cause of death and injuries for police officers before COVID. But still to this day, in this environment, domestic violence is one of those very challenging and dangerous calls our police officers may have to respond to," he said. 

Dr. Alexander said the danger of these calls highlights the need for police reform in the country - specifically around domestic violence issues.

Credit: Provided
Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy Lena "Nicole" Marshall

"There's a lot more conversation, a lot more study that needs to be done about how we couple police with social work to see how we address those issues around domestic violence and who goes in first. And, when is it not proper for social workers to go in alone," he explained.

Some metro police departments like Gwinnett have launched specialized departments to handle mental health emergencies and Dr. Alexander thinks they should do the same to help victims of domestic violence.

"Many times victims feel helpless, they feel like they don't have anywhere to go for a variety of different reasons, in which we might not understand, but all of us as community members and citizens have a responsibility to help people to get to a place of safety," he said.

The suspect in the Jackson County case was shot and killed by another Deputy, while the suspect in the Henry County case is still at large.

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