​For release on July 13, 2016   CONTACT:
Cindy Seeley Hendrickson, Assistant District Attorney
Office of the District Attorney
Morgan Hill Police Detective Melinda "Mindy" Zen
  A veteran Morgan Hill police detective has won an inaugural award, honoring her pivotal role in creating a Santa Clara County trio of “Family Justice Centers” aimed at getting as much help as possible for domestic violence victims.
Detective Melinda “Mindy” Zen was such a pivotal force in creating the centers that the annual award – given to the victim advocate, law enforcement officer, or other service provider who has done an exemplary job advocating for domestic violence survivors - hereafter will be named after her.
Assistant District Attorney Cindy Seeley Hendrickson said: “Detective Zen exemplifies the hard work and determination it takes to effectively advocate for domestic violence survivors. She has made it her mission to try to ease the trauma and extreme vulnerability – physical, emotional, and financial – of many battered women in our community. I truly believe she has saved lives.”   
Morgan Hill Police Department Chief David Swing said: “I believe Detective Zen’s success is founded in her innate ability to quickly build rapport with the survivor during their time of need and her strong sense of justice that drives her to seek out the offender in an effort to hold the batterer accountable. Her strong work ethic is only matched by her professionalism and compassion for those she serves.”   The award comes along with the public release of the 2015 Domestic Violence Death Review report. The report showed that there were 13 domestic violence related deaths in the county last year, a significant increase from only two the year before. However, the total statistically shows that it is 2014’s total that was the aberration. Since 1994 there has been an average of 12 domestic violence related deaths every year. The report highlights some themes found in the most lethal, local cases of domestic violence:

  • “These crimes happen in every community in the County, east and west, north and south, rich and poor, with the homicides this year occurring in Saratoga, Milpitas, San Jose and Gilroy. Half of the eight victims were professionals or retired professionals and at least three of the incidents occurred in upscale neighborhoods.”
  • For the second year in a row, an elderly man, facing medical issues killed his wife and committed or tried to commit suicide. “Experts believe that there will more of these tragedies as our elderly population increases and issues such as caregiver stress, terminal illness and dementia create later-in-life mental health crises that our health care system must recognize and address.”
  The report concludes with a call for all potential victims to closely heed: All threats must be taken seriously, whether or not you feel the perpetrator has the means to follow through on them or says that the threats were just a joke. Listen to your inner voice that says there may be a problem. If you are afraid, there is probably good reason to be. Reach out.   # # #  

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