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Mark Wynn, who retired from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department in Tennessee as a lieutenant, speaks about domestic terrorism Thursday morning at the third biennial Breaking the Silence on Sexual and Domestic Violence Conference. The two-day conference is being held at Bemidji State University's American Indian Resource Center. The conference continues today. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Retired police lieutenant speaks about domestic terrorism

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Retired Lt. Mark Wynn believes the words "domestic violence" do not fit the crime.

To him, he said Thursday morning in Bemidji, "domestic terrorism" is more accurate.

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"I think this is the original homeland security issue," said Wynn, who retired from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department in Tennessee.

Wynn, who now consults for the U.S. Department of Justice and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, spoke about domestic terrorism Thursday morning at the third biennial Breaking the Silence on Sexual and Domestic Violence Conference at Bemidji State University. The two-day conference continues today.

During his talk, Wynn shared a story from his life with the more than 90 professionals, students and others from around Minnesota and Canada attending the conference.

"I'm a survivor," Wynn said.

When he was 4 years old, his mother and father divorced. Wynn said his mother then met a man who was "too good to be true" and they married. Wynn said his step-father moved the family, including all five children, to Texas.

"Once he had us in the palm of his hand, then it started," said Wynn, noting that things started with arguments and eventually led to felonies.

Terrorism is about power and control, and domestic violence offenders want to control the family and will use any method, from threats to physical force, Wynn said.

He said he and his family spent time on the run, fleeing from his step-father. He said his step-father eventually stopped trying to find them and later died from tuberculosis.

Making a change

When he entered the law enforcement field, officers weren't being properly trained for responding to domestic violence calls, Wynn said.

"It wasn't a priority of the police leaders," he said, adding that this attitude rippled down the police ranks.

Wynn said Davidson County, where Nashville is located, received 22,000 domestic violence calls every year and only one detective was responsible for following up on the calls.

In 1995, the police department in Nashville created a domestic violence division.

Wynn said the goal was not only to investigate the 22,000 domestic violence calls every year and reduce the annual rate of homicides of women from 25-30 to zero, but to prevent domestic violence.

Variety of topics

On both Thursday and Friday, several speakers and break-out sessions - ranging in topics from "On Scene Investigation" to "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" - were scheduled for the conference.

The conference is sponsored by the Sexual Assault Program of Beltrami, Cass and Hubbard Counties; Anishinabe Legal Services; Northwoods Coalition for Family Safety; BSU's criminal justice, psychology, sociology and social work departments; BSU's women's studies program; BSU's Hobson Memorial Union; and BSU's Women's Center.

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