APD lieutenant talks domestic violence during the holidays

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque police received more than 200 domestic violence calls between Wednesday and Saturday over last Thanksgiving. A spike they hadn’t seen in a decade. 

While the holidays bring joy for many, there are also plenty of people who spend them in fear. As the season brings a spike in domestic violence calls. 

“We’re dealing with family time. There’s already some stressed relationships that are out there, you add that on top of the burden that the holidays bring into our situation. We have the increased stresses from the financial situation that just complicate everything all the way around,” said APD Special Victims Section Lt. Amanda Christensen.

Christensen oversees the Domestic Abuse Response Team, or DART. It’s a team of 20 sworn officers who work with advocates to connect domestic violence victims with resources. 

“These 20 officers are field officers that are scattered across the city that have gone through our two-day training to make sure they understand elements of domestic violence, signs of strangulation, making sure they can identify and communicate properly,” said Christensen. 

Mayor Tim Keller created DART in 2022 after a record-breaking number of domestic violence calls came in over Thanksgiving. 

Between Wednesday and Saturday of the holiday last year, police responded to 207 domestic violence calls, and 71 calls on Thanksgiving Day alone. Two of those calls were deadly. 

“It’s heart-wrenching. It’s frustrating. The system is not perfect, and we’re not going to be able to save every single one of them, and a lot of these leave that wound on our own souls,” Christensen said. 

Christensen hopes this year is quieter, but says along with their DART officers, their advocates are up to speed to help with the domestic violence calls that do come in.

“These are civilian professionals that are up-to-date on the latest resources as far as restraining orders, safety plans. We have bilingual, different resources as far as safe houses, and different ways to get people services that we need during this time,” said Christensen.  

What should someone do if they suspect there is a potentially dangerous situation in a loved one’s home?

Christensen says be ready to listen to those loved ones. Help them come up with a safety plan to get out of the situation. 

She says it’s not always the best idea to immediately call police if a victim is still with an abuser.