Nevada ranks first in domestic violence killings

A report released Tuesday says Nevada had the highest rate of domestic violence killings by men against women in the nation.

The study looked at FBI statistics from 2009 in which one man killed one woman, a typical indicator of domestic violence. Nevada's rate of homicides per 100,000 people was 2.7. Alabama was second with a rate of 2.64 per 100,000 people.

The annual report was released by the nonprofit Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C., which has an anti-gun agenda.

The group's study ranked Nevada first in four of the past five reports.

William Sousa, a criminal justice professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the report should be examined with some skepticism.

Because of the large tourist population in cities such as Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada's base population is much higher than census data indicate.

"If they're using the wrong base number, that (the high numbers) shouldn't be a surprise," he said.

Sousa pointed to states such as South Dakota, tied for eighth in the study, which have very low populations.

Larger states, such as Texas, New York, and California, did not appear in the study's top 10.

Sousa said domestic violence is a nationwide problem facing many communities.

The study "does a disservice to some states, and in other states it makes it seem like less of a problem then it really is," he said.

The FBI does not recommend comparing states when analyzing its data.

"If the FBI is saying that about their own numbers, that should give us a sense of what the study really is," Sousa said.

Lt. Rob Lundquist, who oversees the domestic violence detail for the Metropolitan Police Department, said numbers have been trending down within the jurisdiction since 2009.

Domestic violence homicides were in the mid-30s in 2009 and 2010. There have been 11 domestic homicides this year, with five involving women.

Lundquist said the Police Department has been proactive in its approach to domestic violence.

In August 2009, police began a risk assessment program for victims of domestic violence and the most violent offenders. Victims now are directed to SafeNest, an organization against domestic violence that provides counseling.

"We've definitely had a big reduction," Lundquist said. "I know the report has us listed as No. 1, but that data is old, and we have been trending down."

Any recent efforts would not have been reflected in the report's 2-year-old data.

Contact reporter Mike Blasky at or 702-383-0283.