Monica Webb did everything possible, under the current system, to protect herself against her abuser. She reported the domestic violence, she moved her residence, she was granted an Order of Protection, she reported the violation of the protection order and yet she died at the hands of her abuser. Her death is a result of the local law enforcement agencies not having a system in place that could better serve and protect. This is a story that is not unusual but needs to be told more infrequently in the future.
The main focus of this agenda is to institute a DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TASK FORCE.
The main duties of this task force would be to serve and protect the victims of domestic abuse and provide a trustworthy liaison between victims and the law enforcement community. These officers will provide a more proactive service for the petitioners for which an Order of Protection has been granted and who have become victims of a domestic violence incident.
The duties are not limited to, but include the following:
1) At which time that the presiding judge has found just cause to issue an Order of Protection, the petitioners' contact is limited to the officers assigned to the task force. Calls of concern and report are to routed to these specific officers and not to the patrol division. It is only through contact with these petitioners on a personal basis that the threat level can be properly assessed. It also can provide valuable insight on how to diffuse possible issues that could arise in the future.
2) Once an Order of Protection has been issued, respondents are then required to make daily check in calls to these officers. This will provide the officers with current address and employment information, should there be a need for contact, and can also provide a presence of authority. This practice would also provide psychologically, the idea of consequence to any adverse actions and give the appearance of surveillance. Failure to check in with the officers would be considered a violation.
3) Upon the issuance of the Order of Protection, a mental health exam is to be administered and a recommendation offered to the judge and DVTF for review. A drug and alcohol panel is also required within 24 hours upon the petition being served. These combined results provide additional information on how best to protect the petitioner as well as the officers assigned to the DVTF. Respondents are also required to complete a course in anger management to learn to diffuse and better cope with highly charged emotional situations. Failure to complete required testing would be considered a violation.
4) Upon issuance of the Order of Protection a social worker from the Victim's Advocacy Program will be assigned to the petitioner. It is a common practice for the petitioner to move their residence but it is not always feasible for the petitioner to leave their place of employment. A service to provide helpful information regarding safety is imperative. It is in the best interest of the petitioner to also be schooled in the basics of self protection.
5) Violators of the Order of Protection are to be treated as if they are an immediate threat. A warrant for arrest should be issued and served in a timely manner. It is not an uncommon practice for the respondents to fail to appear for the proceedings when the Orders of Protections are granted by the judge. Therefore, the practice of mailing a summons is unsatisfactory and often proves to be a fatal flaw in judiciary judgement.
6) Violators of the Order of Protection will be held on a mandatory 12 hour hold. In some cases the Order may broken accidentally and without the intent to harm but in some cases the violation proves fatal. It is a good practice to provide a "cooling down" period before bond is set and attained.
7) If it is established that the respondent knowingly violated the Order of Protection upon which physical contact is made to the petitioner and/or terroristic threats were involved, the charge of Violation of the Order of Protection becomes a felonious offense. Not only is a more substantial bond is set accordingly, but the consequences are more severe.
Monica's Law is the heart and soul of On a Mission for Monica. It is practical and applicable to all city/county departments. The system that is in place at the current time does little to provide protection. The goal is to make an Order of Protection more than just a piece of paper, but a system of checks and balances. We are On a Mission for Monica to stop domestic violence and one step forward on our journey is to provide a more accountable system of protection.