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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Last year law enforcement in St. Joseph County came together with a local women’s shelter to help crack down on domestic abuse in the county.

What they came up with was the Danger Assessment Law Enforcement screening, or “DALE”. A year later, both the YWCA North Central Indiana and law enforcement agencies throughout the county agree it has been paramount in stopping cases of domestic abuse from escalating.

“This year alone, to date, just domestic violence cases in South Bend: 719. That’s as of yesterday (Tuesday),” said South Bend police chief Scott Ruszkowski. “We need people, no matter what the incident is, to step up and to say something.”

The DALE screening allows police officers to pinpoint who is a possible victim of abuse.

“It’s a questionnaire that officers use when they are on patrol and they are answering a domestic violence call,” said YWCA President and CEO Susan Tybon. “If somebody scores high on the DALE, the officers immediately start working to try to get the individual into the YWCA shelter or to hook them up to other services.”

On Wednesday, the YWCA recognized a handful of officers with various agencies around St. Joseph County for their work on stopping domestic violence cases from escalating.

In the last year police in the St. Joseph County area administered over 1,500 DALE screenings. Tybon said that of those 1,500 screenings, 31-percent came back having the victim being at a high risk of being killed because of the abuse.