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      New program aimed at fighting domestic violence in Hidalgo County

      It's a crime that claims innocent lives every year.

      Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino said domestic violence produces almost as many homicides as drug trafficking.

      "Domestic abuse ties with drug trafficking as the leading cause of homicides in Hidalgo County, Sheriff Trevino said. It's a very serious problem."

      In 2009 and 2010 the Sheriff TMs Department worked four homicides that resulted from family violence.

      That number was slightly down in 2011 to three.

      Deputies responded to over 2,400 domestic violence incidents in 2009 and a dozen more in 2010.

      That number is already up to 941.

      These are numbers Sheriff Trevino wants to see decrease"and he is confident the departments new Certified Domestic Abuse Intervention Specialist will do the trick.

      "Our trained specialists are out on the street trying to make contact with our victim's and specialist soon after the initial call is made," Trevino said.

      The 15-person team, which will soon grow to 30, will take on the task of looking for warning signs, taking down information, and making sure those victims and suspects get the help they need before the violence can escalate into murder.

      "If we can stop the vicious cycle of domestic abuse-- then we can save someone's life by preventing a homicide," Trevino said.

      Rosalinda Rodriguez works for Mujeres Unidas and handles dozens of domestic abuse cases a day.

      She said these newly trained officers will have the skills they need to get domestic abuse victims to open up.

      "When law enforcement acts on something it TMs very influential, Rodriguez said. I believe that well trained officers will be a positive influence across the board."