Stopping Domestic Violence: Orange County Commissioners Accept Findings
After months of work, the Orange County Domestic Violence Commission (DVC) presented its findings and proposed recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners in late August. The multi-sector recommendations were put forth to address several domestic violence-related issues in the community. The requested action to accept the recommendations was approved unanimously by the BCC.
Originally convened in 2005, the DVC was reconvened in 2019 by Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings in response to higher rates of cases and incidents of domestic violence in the region. The Commission, made up of 22 members, has thus far held 42 meetings to address gaps in service, identify significant issues and recommend solutions.
Commission Co-Chairs, the Honorable Alice Blackwell, Circuit Judge with the Ninth Judicial Circuit, and Dick Batchelor, President of Dick Batchelor Management Group, Inc., spoke at the Board meeting and proposed the following 16 recommendations (split between four committees):
Court Process Committee
- Establish a domestic violence orientation office as a centralized location to offer information, assistance, and wrap around services to victims of domestic violence. (Action items associated with all recommendations)
- Implement a process that allows electronic transmission and receipt of injunction paperwork by the Sheriff’s Office for civil process service.
- Allow agencies and court systems to share information that will assist in locating an abuser whose whereabouts are unknown to aid with apprehension.
- Establish an e-portal with the Clerk’s Office to receive returns of service.
- Courts to notify Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP) providers when respondents have violated conditions of release or provisions of domestic violence civil injunctions.
System Process Committee
- To assess and identify gaps in service for victims and perpetrators by conducting a safety and accountability audit and an accompanying mapping of the criminal and civil processes.
- Upon completion of the system-mapping project, to reconvene the Domestic Violence Commission to present mapping process results, gaps and necessary recommendations.
Community Service & Resources Committee
- Identify staff or fund position to monitor and report on DVC recommendations, reports and studies and ongoing domestic violence efforts to include training in the county.
- Engage with faith-based and humanistic leaders to develop a Domestic Violence Outreach Campaign.
- Develop domestic violence response teams with Orange County law enforcement agencies.
- Expand criteria/focus area of the Orange County Citizens Commission for Children to include domestic violence – work with staff to include domestic violence as a funding category.
- Seek dedicated public/private funding to support transportation services for domestic violence victims and survivors.
- Prioritize housing resources for victims of domestic violence in Orange County.
Public Awareness & Community Education Committee
- Create Domestic Violence Public Service Announcements
- Build and maintain a multilingual Domestic Violence Community Resource Page & E-Guide (in English, Spanish and Creole).
- Publish periodic newsroom stories on Orange County Newsroom focused on educating the community on how to recognize the signs of domestic violence, provide messages of encouragement to survivors and inform the public and victims there is a safe way out and a call to action.
Next steps for the Commission include convening a staff workgroup to develop a strategic implementation timeline and providing bi-annual progress reports to the BCC.
“This is certainly an important issue to our community and one of my biggest priorities, so we look forward to now implementing and executing the plan,” said Mayor Demings. “I want to thank the Commission for the work they’ve done to this point.”
The Mayor added one of the major takeaways was that many of the issues are interrelated, including domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse, affordable housing and financial hardship. “We have is to be intentional about this,” he asserted. “We need to keep these issues in the forefront and stay focused.”
For more information on the Orange County Domestic Violence Commission, go to the Orange County webpage.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month PSA
Photo Caption: Domestic Violence Awareness advocate speaks to elected officials about the importance of supporting and providing accessible resources for victims at a news conference on Monday, October 4, 2021, at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.