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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Candlelight vigil highlights domestic violence dangers

  • Andy Dedeke said one of his favorite memories from his childhood is helping his father as he prepared for work as a police officer in the 1970s.
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  • Andy Dedeke said one of his favorite memories from his childhood is helping his father as he prepared for work as a police officer in the 1970s.
    Dedeke said he and his older brother would ask their father about the equipment he carried on his belt and other questions. The questioning would culminate with the boys asking about the most dangerous type of call their father had to face as a police officer. Without hesitation, their father would say domestic violence calls were the most dangerous.
    Dedeke, who today is the sheriff of Leavenworth County, relayed the story from his childhood Saturday night during an annual candlelight vigil for the Alliance Against Family Violence.
    Dedeke said there was a distinct sadness in his father's face when he talked about domestic violence calls.
    "I couldn't begin to understand as a boy that Dad was sad because he knew these victims of domestic violence had very few options and a very bleak outlook," Dedeke said.
    Dedeke said there have been some major, positive changes regarding domestic violence since the time his father was a police officer.
    "No longer is it an issue between a man and woman," Dedeke said. "It is now a societal issue that is no longer tolerated."
    He said laws are now in place that require an arrest if there is evidence of abuse. It is no longer left to the discretion of responding officers or the victims.
    The Alliance holds the candlelight vigil each year during October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
    Saturday's ceremony included musical and dance performances as well as the lighting of candles. There also were a few comments from a victim of domestic violence who was helped by the Alliance. The event was held at the Alliance's headquarters in Leavenworth.
    During his remarks, Dedeke said law enforcement officers in Leavenworth County have a front row seat for every reported incident of domestic violence in the county.
    "After 21 years as a law enforcement officer, I now understand why the tone in my dad's voice was serious and why his eyes were sad when speaking about domestic violence," he said.
    Unlike the officers of his father's time, today's law enforcement officers in Leavenworth County have a tremendous resource to help victims of domestic violence, Dedeke said.
    He said the Alliance Against Family Violence is a wonderful organization committed to helping victims and giving them a voice. He said the organization also is a partner that's dedicated to helping law enforcement.
    Dedeke's father, Larry Dedeke, now serves on the Leavenworth City Commission.

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