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City, State Leaders Talk New Center for Domestic Violence Victims

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Nearly 150 law enforcement, government and advocacy group officials met Tuesday morning in the Oklahoma City Civic Center with hopes of making stand against domestic violence. Nearly 150 law enforcement, government and advocacy group officials met Tuesday morning in the Oklahoma City Civic Center with hopes of making stand against domestic violence.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

Nearly 150 law enforcement, government and advocacy group officials met Tuesday morning in the Oklahoma City Civic Center with hopes of making stand against domestic violence.

Officials heard presentations for the creation of a Family Justice Center. It would be a one stop shop, giving victims of domestic violence access to law enforcement, lawyers, doctors and advocates all in the same building.

Currently in Oklahoma City, victims of domestic violence have to travel to several locations to file a report, get minor medical attention and get legal advice. Jan Peery, CEO of the YWCA of Oklahoma City, said often that kind of travel can be dangerous for victims in violently controlling relationships.

“Those one stop shop kind of facility are really serving those victims much better, more efficiently in a really more emotional stable environment,” Peery said

Oklahoma has been ranked near the top of national lists of domestic violence rates with some of the worst in the last two decades. This year, the Sooner state ranked sixth in the number of women killed by men per capita.

In Oklahoma City alone, some estimates reach the tens of thousands for the number of domestic violence arrests with many offenders being arrested for similar charges multiple times. 

Domestic violence includes abuse, assault, sexual assault and child abuse. For law enforcement, they can be some of the most dangerous crime scenes and, to make matters worse, they’re difficult to prosecute.

“Every time there's a crisis going on at that location at that home and the officer can only do so much,” Oklahoma City police Capt. Paco Balderrama said. “It's very difficult for a victim to go through the criminal justice and prosecution system. It's not a very good process for a victim.” 

The center has been done before.

Since it was started in 2002 in San Diego, there’s been a 95 percent decrease in domestic violence, according to the Alliance for Hope. The alliance sponsors efforts to fight domestic violence and child abuse.

Peery said a 20 percent increase would be a radical change for Oklahoma City. It could also alter the financial state of law enforcement.

Oklahoma spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on domestic violence arrests and incarcerations each year.

The center would provide diversion or intervention programs which state Sen. Kay Floyd, of Oklahoma City, thinks could save thousands of dollars that would normally be spent on the arrests and jailing of repeat offenders.

“The time is now people want this to happen. Whether you’re doing it for the social reasons or the economic reasons, everyone is at the table looking to get it done,” she said.

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