Dear Editor:

Here we are, just several weeks into the new year and already 11 Pennsylvanians have died as a result of domestic violence. This comes on the heels of a stunningly high number of domestic-related fatalities last year. Early data for 2009 put the death toll at 198 women, men and children.

We are deeply saddened by this extraordinary loss of life and extend our condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the victims, including State Trooper Paul G. Richey and Nancy Frey-Smith who were shot to death this week in Venango County by Ms. Frey-Smith's husband, who later committed suicide. Trooper Richey was ambushed as he approached Frey-Smith's home.

Our statewide network of 61 programs has shared a close alliance with Pennsylvania law enforcement for more than three decades. We know firsthand the bravery of the dedicated officers who put their lives on the line every day, every time they intervene in dangerously volatile domestic violence incidents. They are the gatekeepers to justice and safety and are true heroes in every sense of the word.

On behalf of all who died because of the violence, all who live behind closed doors with the violence, and all who work tirelessly to stop the violence, we call upon our political leaders to take measure of what's happening and take swift action to put in place the resources and legal protections necessary for the safety and well-being of the citizens of this Commonwealth. Not one more life should be lost to domestic violence.

Peg Dierkers,

Executive Director

PennsylvaniaCoalition Against Domestic Violence