Domestic-violence group honors Philadelphia deputy police commissioner

Domestic-abuse survivor Renee Norris-Jones (seated) receives a round of applause after telling her story during an event in LOVE Park.
Domestic-abuse survivor Renee Norris-Jones (seated) receives a round of applause after telling her story during an event in LOVE Park. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 12, 2012

The water in the fountain at LOVE Park was purple - the color of Domestic Violence Awareness Month - Wednesday afternoon when Deputy Police Commissioner Patricia Giorgio Fox received the inaugural edition of an award named in her honor.

Presented by Women Against Abuse at its fifth annual iPledge event, the Pat Fox Trailblazer Award honors a member of a public institution who is a leader in transformation.

"Candidates exemplify the leadership needed to make a vision a reality," said Jeannine Lisitski, the group's executive director. "With Deputy Fox, she held a combination of leadership and manageability that really pushed the Police Department to do something unbelievable."

In fall 2009, 36 domestic-violence homicides were reported, up from 21 the year before. Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey ordered immediate changes in the way the department handled domestic abuse.

"It used to be that we would just separate the two parties involved and let them cool off, and that would be it," Ramsey said in a speech at the event. "That was wrong then, and it's wrong now."

In a partnership with the District Attorney's Office, academics from the University of Pennsylvania, and domestic-abuse awareness groups, Ramsey created a program led by Fox to address domestic abuse.

Under Fox's supervision, the department designed a two-page response form for responding officers' use that detailed the complaint; any previous history of abuse, complaints, or court orders; the actions of both victim and offender; and the condition of the scene when police arrived.

Police citywide began using the forms in March 2011, and data from them reports were to be shared with all partner agencies in the effort to stem domestic violence.

In 2011, domestic-violence homicides decreased to 24.

"I think we've moved 25 years in two and a half," said Fox, who is set to retire next week.

For its latest effort, Women Against Abuse is working with two middle schools and three high schools in the city district to encourage conversations about dating and relationships.

The initiative uses the data from the police reports to target schools in areas with the highest rate of domestic violence, said Azucena Ugarte, the group's director of education and training.


Contact Samantha Byles at 215-854-2771 or sbyles@phillynews.com.

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