Thursday, December 11, 2003
Attorney General Launches Task Force on Domestic Violence Response
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Attorney General Bill Lockyer yesterday convened the first meeting of a statewide task force that will study the effectiveness of how local criminal justice agencies respond to and deal with domestic violence issues.
The 24-member task force will conduct public hearings throughout the state to study local policies and practices, Lockyer said in a statement.
Despite a myriad of laws aimed at protecting victims and preventing domestic violence, California local law enforcement agencies received 196,569 domestic violence-related calls for assistance last year, the attorney general reported. There were 153 murders committed as a result of intimate partner violence and 50,479 arrests for spousal abuse under Penal Code sec. 273.5.
“Domestic violence continues to be an epidemic in California,” Lockyerís statement said. “California has put in place a solid criminal justice structure to help victims of violence. It’s my hope that this task force’s work will build on what is good and fix what isn’t.”
The task force will focus on four issues, Lockyerís statement explained: How domestic violence restraining orders are obtained and enforced; how law enforcement agencies respond to mandated reports of domestic violence by health care practitioners; how batterers are held accountable; and how prosecutors’ offices handle domestic violence cases. The task force will submit a report by the end of next year describing current practices, identifying critical needs, highlighting successful approaches and proposing possible legislative changes.
San Diego City Attorney Casey Gwinn was appointed by Lockyer to chair the task force. Gwinn founded the San Diego City Attorney’s Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Unit, which in 1993 was recognized as the nation’s model unit by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
He also led the effort to open the nationally acclaimed San Diego Family Justice Center last year. The center brings together the domestic violence units of the San Diego Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office to provide “one-stop shopping” for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, and sexual assault.
“When the Attorney General called me about forming the task force, I knew I had to be a part of this key effort,” Gwinn said in a statement. “The work of the task force will provide crucial guidance in helping local agencies increase the safety of domestic violence victims and their families.”
Additional information about the task force is available at the Attorney General’s Crime and Violence Prevention Center website at www.safestate.org.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company