City and County officials reflect on the Family Safety Center after one year in operation at
600 Civic Center
Tulsa City Councilor G.T. Bynum has been a strong advocate for the Family Safety Center at City Hall
Tulsa City Councilor G.T. Bynum was instrumental in selling his colleagues at the city on the notion of an expanded one-stop-shop for victims of domestic violence.
"I came in on the tail end of the planning stages of the new FSC facility, and there was a range of participants who had stepped up to the plate but we needed a commitment from the City of Tulsa for the operation of the FSC, that's where I got involved," said Bynum. "We're always looking for ways to make Tulsa a safer place, and I was very proud of my colleagues on the city council for agreeing unanimously that this was something we needed to do."
"The facility is a great utilization of federal grant and local funds. I think one of the things that was useful for making the case for the FSC's new facility was that it's not just serving one part of town. People in the wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods are equally affected by family violence, and this provides a service for every corner of the city," said Bynum. "The situations they have to deal with at the FSC just rip your heart out. And it takes a really special kind of person who can face that day in and day out and help people who have been victimized. I think a lot of the time when we talk in government about victims it's a very broad, generalized statement. But when you realize there are little kids and people who feel there is no place left to turn that go to this place for help. It's a very unique and important service."
Family Safety Center Executive Director Suzann Stewart and Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith are longtime friends, and as Karen watched Suzann work she realized the Family Safety Center needed better accessibility to the courts. "They needed a one-stop shop for their clients who are traumatized. People don't realize the transportat
ion issues some of these people face, so it's important to have all of the resources available in one place so they don't have to go from building to building, from place to place, and the bus station is right across the street," says Keith.
"There's no comparison between the new facility and the old one. What we DO have that's consistent are the same faces you see when you walk in the door ... Billy the security guard, and Pennie the receptionist," says Keith. "My favorite part of the facility is the artwork, you absolutely feel safe. Bottom line is, the people who are here absolutely
care and will do everything they can to help get people the help they need."
"I think people have no idea how diverse the populations are that are impacted
Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith knew the FSC needed better accessibility
to the courts
by family violence. It crosses every socio-economic bracket. In fact, many people of the higher income groups may be the last to come in. Some of those may be in more danger because it's difficult for them to admit there's such a problem, they are embarrassed," said Keith.
Speaking to FSC's success rate, Keith says "I think the astonishing statistic for the FSC is that the victims who reached out for help last year had zero homicides. But the people who didn't reach out to FSC did not survive, and that's tragic."
"When the sheriff and police departments get DV calls, they all share the information about the FSC. They all understand how this agency can save lives. The best tool we have is to let victims know that there is help, they are not alone, and they are not the only person who has gone through this. The Chief and Sheriff are both huge advocates for the FSC. They believe in it, help staff it, and their officers on the streets serve as advocates," says Keith.
Keith adds, "FSC is creating a best model. Anytime a group like the FSC is called on to train other facilities across the country you know you're doing something right."