LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - With thousands of Las Cruces residents asked to stay home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Las Cruces Police Department said it is bracing for an increase in domestic violence calls.
"As you can imagine, with the increase of people being required to stay home, is an increase in domestic violence calls," Las Cruces Police Chief Patrick Gallagher told the Las Cruces City Council in this week's virtual meeting.
According to the police department, there were 489 domestic violence calls in March of 2019. This month, there have been 532 calls so far.
"The most prevalent call for March has been people asking us to check on the welfare of their friends and relatives," Chief Gallagher said.
Domestic violence shelters worry victims are stuck at home with their abusers, who are not at work.
"That's something that's pretty frightening, you know," said Bryana Valdez, who works for La Casa, Inc. "Individuals are stuck at home, so there isn't that moment maybe to kind of leave and go make a phone call or get to help."
Valdez said the shelter has not seen a serious increase in calls. She fears victims can't leave an abuse relationship with their partners constantly at home.
"Domestic violence is really prevalent," Valdez told ABC-7. "We just want to be a support for people wanting to reach out. To let them know we are here. We are available during this time."
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, Valdez said you can call La Casa at (575) 526-2819 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).