Domestic Violence Policy Committee Report

3. Training

Based on recent concerns about the response of the Sheriff's Department, District Attorney, courts, and others to domestic violence, there have been recent proposals to increase training for personnel. However, given the nature of the problem, the proposed increases in training are insufficient in the amount of time devoted to the training and in the lack of attention to the dynamics of violence, i.e., the cycle of violence and contrition, and its impact on people. The degree of discretion individual personnel must exercise demands:
Lecture formats are not as helpful as experiential learning in achieving the heightened sensitivity and awareness that is needed. Training needs to address trauma, PTSD, disassociative and numbing phenomena, the ambivalence of victims and families, and attitudes and beliefs which can serve to excuse violence in families. These are complicated issues which require ongoing discussion and review.

The area of greatest attention in the AG's report is training and education (III). We concur with every issue identified in the report. However, only in the case of the courts does the AG's report note the lack of "sensitivity to the victim's situation"(III.A). As noted above, we believe that this is an area where all entities must put much greater emphasis in the training programs.

We agree with the AG's report that law enforcement's block training is inadequate (III.B). The Community Task Force Report recommends extensive cross-training, especially using victim advocates, for law enforcement (C7), probation (C8), and members of the judiciary (C9) and staff (C9a,c), and District Attorney's staff (C10b).

Recommended Actions: TrainingAccountable Parties
A. Ongoing and mandatory multi-disciplinary training will be provided for all county and law enforcement agencies (sworn and non-sworn), at all levels, on domestic violence, child , abuse, cycles of violence, and power and control dynamics within interpersonal relationships. Such training should focus on issues such as:
* discretion/reasonable victim standard for enforcement of TROs,
* use of stay away orders, emergency protective orders and orders after hearing,
* assessment of and strategies for identifying and dealing with high-risk cases,
* asserting leadership on the front-line, including: risk-< taking, courage, creative problem-solving to protect victims of domestic violence,
* report writing that creates a common language and understanding of domestic violence, stalking and child abuse.
* values, attitudes and belief systems and the difficulties they pose in addressing domestic violence.
Sheriff's Dept. and Other Law Enforcement, District Attorney, Courts, CPS/HSD and Other Service Providers, State Representatives
B. All agencies will convene and collaborate on inter-agency Sheriff's Dept. reviews of their effectiveness in addressing domestic violence and Other Law in order to promote common understandings and problem- Enforcement, solving, particularly in high risk cases. District Attorney, Courts, CPS/HSD and Other Service Providers

4. Accountability

The phenomenon of diffused responsibility is central to our findings that there is no single point of accountability for:

Even basic information about domestic violence is not easily available. The often disastrous consequences of this systemic failure are far reaching. The negative consequences of performance failure are unacceptable on an individual case level, and far reaching on a community-wide level. The effects of domestic violence can be linked to almost every social problem facing our community.

For the individual working on the front-line, there is little or no degree of personal ownership for identifying and addressing domestic violence issues and for asserting leadership or discretionary authority. People are not being held sufficiently accountable for stepping forward and taking responsibility for the problems they see. There are little or no real consequences for prejudice or continuously executing poor judgment in relation to the handling of domestic violence cases.

The AG's report (IA) comments on the lack of follow-through on the April, 1994 DV Task Force Report by the local courts. While it is our understanding that the courts have approved the establishment of a Coordinating Council, which we believe will contribute to increased communication at the policy level, even if all of the AG's recommendations regarding improved communication (I, B & C) are adopted (which we fully support), there is still the need for better documentation and accountability for outcomes. The Community Task Force Report recommended development of protocols for all agencies working with domestic violence cases, where accountabilities can be assigned (A1).

One area of needed accountability identified by the AG's report involves a method for the victim to raise questions if she or he feels a case was improperly handled. (II.G). In another area (III.D), the AG's report states "bluntly...there has been too little exchange...about the perceived shortcomings on both sides of this issue"; i.e., coordination between the District Attorney's Office and law enforcement. This is one of many examples where opportunities for continuous performance improvement are not currently being fully utilized. The Community Task Force Report also dealt with these cases in the family law system (which is not addressed above), including consideration of domestic violence in custody orders (C9 d & e), more legal representation for victims in family law courts (C9f), and greater training for Alternative Dispute Resolution providers and mediators (C9g-i). Recommended

Actions: Accountability Accountable Parties
A. Each entity within the system will identify a point ofaccountability, specific goals and appropriate measures of performance, and a mechanism for initiating corrective action when performance goals are not met. Sheriff's Dept. and Other Law Enforcement, District Attorney, Courts, Probation, CPS/HSD and Other ServiceProviders
B. A data gathering and reporting system that fills the need for meaningful performance measurement will be implemented. Statistical reports documenting domestic violence case volume and outcomes (see prototype, Appendix 2: National Bulletin on Domestic Violence) will be reported monthly to the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and made available to the public. Sheriff's Dept., Other Law Enforcement Agencies, District Attorney, Courts, Probation
C. The Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (DVCC) will have appropriate staffing and authorization to oversee and review the system's performance. By February 1, 1997 the Sheriff's Dept., courts, District Attorney, other law enforcement agencies, probation, CPS/HSD and other service providers, as needed, will present to the DVCC plans for implementing the actions recommended in this report. By December 1, 1997, and at least annually thereafter, the DVCC will hold hearings and report on progress of such implementation.Courts, Board of Supervisors and Other Governing Bodies (City Councils, etc.)
D. A mechanism will be established that allows victims and advocates to raise questions or concerns on the handling of and individual cases and for cases to receive a formal review that results in corrective action, as needed. Sheriff's Dept., Other Law Enforcement, District Attorney, Probation, Courts, CPS/HSD and Other Service Providers

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