Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ordinance proves to be successful in prosecuting domestic violence offenders


More than six months after its passage, an ordinance that Kansas City Police helped write to protect domestic violence victims has increased prosecutions of some offenders by 157 percent.

City ordinance No. 080765, “Violation of Order of Protection,” went into effect Oct. 15, 2008. Before this time, all violations of orders of protection were sent to state prosecutors. Many of these violations were in the form of communication only, in which an abuser would contact the victim by phone or e-mail.

“He could say over the phone, ‘I want to come by and bring you flowers and apologize,’” said Captain Mark Folsom, commander of KCPD’s Special Victims Unit. “And it would be hard for a jury to convict anyone for that. But what he’s really doing is grooming the victim, trying to work his way back into the relationship, where the cycle of abuse can start all over again.”

Before the ordinance, just 27 percent of violations of full orders of protection cases were prosecuted. Now with the new ordinance, those cases are sent to municipal instead of state prosecutors. Police analyzed cases prosecuted under the new ordinance from October 15, 2008, to April 15, 2009, and discovered prosecution rates of violations of full orders of protection cases were up to 69.4 percent. That’s a 157-percent increase over the old prosecution rates.

Of the 45 domestic violence cases that have come to their final disposition under the new ordinance, the perpetrators were found guilty 64 percent of the time, with the most common sentence being 180 days in jail plus two years of probation.

The new ordinance also allows violation of orders of protection cases to be handled by patrol officers instead of domestic violence detectives, holding violators accountable more quickly, protecting victims more swiftly and reducing the detectives’ backlog, which allows them to work on more serious assaults and repeat offender cases.

“The quicker response to these violations has improved victim safety,” Captain Folsom said.

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