Findings in a review of four separate domestic violence fatalities will help Mecklenburg County as a community understand more about the crime, the victims, the perpetrators and the agencies and organizations working to prevent it. “If You Leave Me I Will Kill You” is the title of the first report from the Mecklenburg County Domestic Violence Fatality Prevention and Protection Review Team. At its meeting on July 12, 2011, the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners heard from team representatives. Retired District Court Judge Jane Harper is chair of the DVFRT and she presented the report. “The title for this report was chosen based on a common factor in three of the four cases reviewed by the Mecklenburg Team over the past year,” according to the report’s introduction. “Three of the four women heard this threat before her husband, or boyfriend, killed her.” North Carolina legislation created the DVFRT on June 1, 2009 as a pilot project in Mecklenburg County. In 2008, North Carolina had 81 domestic violence-related homicides and of that number, 11 happened in Charlotte, according to the report. The legislation provides the needed legal protection to make it easier for agencies to share case information in a full review. The BOCC and the Domestic Violence Community Leadership Team, a group of public and private agency leaders committed to zero tolerance for domestic violence, supported the push for the legislation. Community Support Services, a Mecklenburg County department that includes the Women’s Commission, is lead agency for the effort. The report includes recommendations for agencies such as law enforcement, social services, health care providers, families, friends and others in the community who may be able to help a person in need. Key recommendations include: increased training about DV for new and experienced police officers; increased public awareness about signs and impacts of DV exposure; and increased awareness of the requirement to report DV exposure of children to Child Protective Services. “This first year report points out the ongoing need to educate the public about DV signs and symptoms and the available resources in this community,” CSS Director Stacy Lowry said. “When more people – family, friends, co-workers – recognize DV and reach out to help, we will have a safer community.” Help is available through the Mecklenburg Women’s Commission at 704-336-3210 and through the United Family Services Shelter for Battered Women at 704-332-2513. Read the entire report online and find additional information about domestic violence education, prevention and counseling.