The unique nature of crimes involving domestic violence is the fact of an ongoing personal relationship between the perpetrator and victim. They often live together, coparent children and the victim is frequently economically dependent on the perpetrator. In addition, both parties may have life-long histories of victimization and battering, having been victims of child abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment, as well as having witnessed family violence throughout their lives. Also, drug and/or alcohol abuse are significant factors exacerbating problems in already dysfunctional relationships.
Sheriff's Department, District Attorney, courts, probation and Child Protective Services personnel, including department leadership, administrative, sworn and non-sworn staff in all divisions of each agency, are insufficiently trained in the complexity of issues associated with domestic violence. Staff are also insufficiently trained on the nexus between domestic violence, child abuse and animal abuse.
In order for every justice system contact with perpetrators and victims of domestic violence to be an effective step toward intervening to break the cycle of violence, personnel must receive regular, ongoing and expert training on the dynamics of power and control and the cycle of family violence.
It must be stressed that training for law enforcement personnel alone is not sufficient for effectively intervening to break the cycle of violence because law enforcement assistance is usually sought after ongoing domestic violence has reached critical, life- threatening levels. However, law enforcement training is imperative in order for personnel to effectively intervene during those extreme and extremely dangerous emergency calls. Domestic violence calls or inquiries can never be answered as "routine" because of the multitude of complex factors discussed above. For this reason, victims need extra time with the patrol officer to give him or her an accurate picture of what's happening, what the options are, and how the situation might unfold.
The Sheriff's Department protocols must take into account the unique nature and dynamics of domestic violence cases; changes in operational protocol must be implemented:
a) the burden of identifying an escalating pattern of violent activity must be shifted away from the victim to the law enforcement professional. Under current practice, the burden is on the victim to show this escalating pattern of violent activity. This is an untenable situation for a victim of domestic violence who is unlikely to be familiar enough with the dynamics of power and control and the cycle of domestic violence to recognize the lethality of her or his situation. 1
b) properly identifying the relationship of perpetrator and victim, and the possibility of a pattern of escalating behavior which increases the threat to the victim. Criteria used by the Sheriff's Dept. in defining a "critical" versus "routine" domestic violence incident may be inadequate in assessing risk.
In both first and subsequent "routine" contacts there is insufficient emphasis and documented evidence on safety planning and education of the victim; i.e., crime prevention. In addition, law enforcement personnel may be insufficiently trained to provide such crime prevention, counseling and education services.
B. Threat to Children
In domestic violence situations, the possibility of threat to children and the trauma of living in a violent environment mandates a need for much more intensive and proactive communication and coordination with other agencies; i.e., Child Protective Services (CPS/HSD), health care providers, schools and other child and family service providers.
C. Law Enforcement and District Attorney Discretion
Without extensive training in domestic violence and without personnel policies related to domestic violence within law enforcement and at the District Attorney's office, the subjective judgment involved in discretion cannot be reliably trusted. For example, we are concerned about the recent rise in "mutual arrests" by the Sheriff's Dept., to levels that are double the state average. On a call for domestic violence, both the perpetrator and victim are arrested assuming they are equally at fault. This effort at expediting arrest speaks to the need for much more intensive training and supervision on domestic violence cases. It also indicates the need to track statistics, such as number of arrests of women by law enforcement, versus number of filings by the District Attorney. As noted above, we are also concerned about reports that some victims of domestic violence are improperly denied their right to have an advocate, whether lawyer or citizen advocate, present at meetings with law enforcement, family mediation and the District Attorney.
The AG's report identifies the need for the Sonoma County law enforcement Chief's Association to reexamine its protocol for giving advice to victims (IV.A). The reference provided by the AG puts greater emphasis on safety planning. The Community Task Force Report stresses periodic training for law enforcement personnel (C7), greater use of Emergency Protective Orders (B5), and uniform procedures for giving information to victims (C10A).
|Recommended Actions: Contact With Law Enforcement||Accountable Parties|
|A. Immediately and ongoing, law enforcement agencies will conduct a complete review of the knowledge, values and beliefs of personnel at all levels regarding domestic violence and conduct training, supervision and counseling where gaps are identified.||Sheriff's Dept., Other Law Enforcement|
|B. As a part of any domestic violence contact, patrol officers will be directed to routinely educate, provide referrals and assist victims in protecting themselves from the escalation of violence.||Sheriff's Dept., Other Law Enforcement|
|C. Law enforcement and the Human Services Department must implement a much closer and more coordinated working relationship regarding Child Protective Services (CPS/HSD), family maintenance, foster care, & family reunification.||Sheriff's Dept., Other Law Enforcement and Human Services Department|
|D. A review of training and procedures on mutual arrests will be implemented immediately and ongoing.||Sheriff's Dept. and District Attorney's Office, Courts, Probation and CPS/HSD|
|E. If law enforcement agency professional has any personal involvement in domestic violence they will have no involvement in domestic violence case work.||Sheriff's Dept., District Attorney and Other Law Enforcement Agencies|
We concur with the AG's report which states that: "permitting officers who have had personal problems with this issue...creates credibility problems as well as a potential for bias" (IV.E) However, as noted above, we feel that this statement does not go far enough.
|Recommended Actions: Law Enforcement Personnel and Their Families||Accountable Parties|
A. All law enforcement agencies, courts, District Attorney's Office staff, CPS/HSD, probation will provide clear policies and criteria on assignment of both sworn and non-sworn personnel, including:
* If there is any personal involvement in domestic violence there will be no involvement in domestic violence case.
* Specific referrals to certified batterers' programs must be made and followed up.
* Extra protection must be provided for spouses, children or others who register a complaint.
|Sheriff's Dept., Other Law Enforcement, District Attorney, Courts and CPS/Human Services Department|
|B. The courts, law enforcement agencies, District Attorney and others in the system will examine their internal norms and standards re: domestic violence and correct any deficiencies, as needed.||Sheriff's Dept., Other Law Enforcement, District Attorney, Courts and CPS/Human Services Department|
Children who live in homes where violence occurs have a much higher likelihood of getting caught up as adults in the cycle of violence as abusers and victims. Current law enforcement and Child Protective Services practices do not adequately take into account this reality. Child Protective Services protocols do not pay attention to domestic violence unless there is direct, obvious evidence of physical harm to children. Evidence of domestic violence is not necessarily reported to law enforcement unless there is evidence that children were physically harmed. Alternately, when law enforcement is aware of domestic violence in the presence of children, referral isn't made to CPS/HSD unless there is evidence of physical harm to children.
|Recommended Actions: Protection of Children||Accountable Parties|
|A. Law enforcement protocols will include contact and ongoing coordination with CPS/HSD in all domestic violence incidents where children are present, regardless of whether there is evidence of "physical" harm to the children.||Law Enforcement Agencies and CPS/HSD|
|B. CPS/HSD protocols will include screening and contact and ongoing coordination between law enforcement agencies and other agencies where there is an indication of domestic violence.||Law Enforcement Agencies and CPS/HSD|
|C. Mechanisms will be developed to allow agencies working with victims of domestic violence or child abuse to communicate and coordinate services to insure safety of families.||Law Enforcement Agencies and CPS/HSD|
|D. If necessary, legislation will be passed to mandate reporting identified in recommendations A & B & C.||State Representatives|
|E. In all domestic violence or child abuse matters, safety of family members will have a higher priority than confidentiality.||Law Enforcement Agencies and CPS/HSD|
|F. Services aimed at intervening with children to break the "cycle of violence" will be given a higher priority in thefunding and programs of county agencies.||Board of Supervisors|
|G. Legislation will be passed to expand judicial authority to State mandate CPS/HSD services in domestic violence, family law Representatives and any other criminal case situation where children are exposed to violence.||State Representatives|
a) The complexity of the temporary restraining order (TRO) packet and forms make it difficult for calm individuals to understand the process of obtaining a restraining order, let alone someone who has recently been a victim of domestic violence. As a result, information provided to law enforcement personnel may be incomplete or ambiguous and interfere with the ability of law enforcement personnel to effectively enforce the restraining order. Just as difficult, is a victim's ability to sort through the various kinds of restraining orders (TROs, EPSs, OAHs, SAOs etc.).
b) It is up to the presenting party to have paperwork completed at the time of a hearing. We understand that currently, the courts have volunteer law student clerks available to assist with completion of paperwork.
c) The onus has been on the victim to make sure she or he gets copies of an order.
d) When restraining orders are no longer in force, there is no notification to victims.
e) The volume of paperwork associated with court proceedings and the lack of differentiation (within the courts) of domestic violence related paperwork from other cases has lead to significant delays in the processing of restraining orders, increasing the risk to victims and undermining their confidence in the justice system.
f) Given the discretion law enforcement and District Attorney's Office personnel have regarding whether a TRO has been violated, (i.e., to say a misdemeanor violation hasn't occurred when, technically, it has), the lack of a victim- friendly tracking system for personnel to obtain information on past violations of TROs hampers law enforcement's ability to adequately assess the degree of potential threat an individual incident poses to a victim.
g) The "CLETS" information system does not contain critical information from the restraining order declaration.
h) When a suspect is not present during a field investigation, checks on that person are not routinely run through the system to see what level of continued threat the victim may face. i) With the level of discretion given to law enforcement, the District Attorney and CPS/HSD and the potential risk of harm, there is an insufficient focus on training aimed at ongoing changes in the law related to restraining orders. Ideally this needs to occur as cross training that includes the District Attorney personnel, CPS/HSD, service providers, and other relevant personnel .
It should be noted that the Temporary Restraining Order Clinic does expedite the processing of orders and provides a safeguard against most of the problems associated with the Macias case. We concur with the AG's report on the lack of TRO clinic availability at locations outside Santa Rosa (II.C). We also agree with the emphasis the AG's report places on the importance of the victim's declaration being available to law enforcement. (II.E). The AG's report does not address the current CLETS' inability to make such information available in the field. As this is a statewide system, it is our understanding that the AG has the authority to implement the needed capabilities.
The Community Task Force Report recommends a centralized TRO filing system (D12), a TRO Clinic (D13), both of which have been established, and more user- friendly TRO instructions (D14).
|Recommended Actions: Restraining Orders||Accountable Parties|
|A. Develop and circulate an easily understandable matrix explaining the variety of restraining orders available to the public. (See Appendix #3)||Courts|
|B. Maintain support for the Santa Rosa TRO Clinic and set up mobile TRO clinics in order to serve geographic areas outside Santa Rosa, using judges or a judge pro tempore, and coordinated with other service agencies and law enforcement.||Courts and YWCA|
|C. Filing of a no contact order will be mandated in all criminal domestic violence cases, even when the perpetrator is in custody or the victim lives with or intends to continue living with the perpetrator.||District Attorney, Courts and law enforcement|
|D. TRO forms, orders, hearings and enforcement processes will be simplified. All restraining order forms should include "no and State Judicial contact" language regarding telephone or other forms of Council correspondence||Presiding Judge|
|E. All TRO information and forms will be provided in Spanish as well as English.||Courts|
|F. Use of volunteers to accompany people involved in TRO or criminal proceedings will be expanded and institutionalized.||Courts|
|G. The state budget will prioritize funding to allow for mobile TRO clinics and other victim services.||State Representatives|