Issue 3, Oct/Nov 2014
                                                                                                                                       

First Integrated Domestic Violence Court in Oklahoma recently launched in Tulsa

 

Oklahoma's first Integrated Domestic Violence Court is a program recently launched in Tulsa resulting from a $300,000 grant awarded in 2013 from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women. Partners of the IDV Court are the FSC, Family & Children's Services, and the Tulsa County Sheriff's Department. The planning and development team includes those agencies as well as the Tulsa County District Attorney, Tulsa County Public Defender, DVIS, Tulsa Police Department and a member of the private defense bar. Judge Bill Hiddle is a special judge at the Tulsa District Court and has been named the IDV Court Judge.

 

Judge Bill Hiddle has been named 
IDV Court Judge

The program was created for the Tulsa County District Court to assess its current approaches to domestic violence cases. Through a collaborative effort with stakeholders, the Court will focus first on misdemeanor domestic violence cases between intimate partners as well as any related protective order cases. The hallmark of the program is systematic judicial monitoring of DV offenders in partnership with local agencies and providers.

 

The IDV Court will operate as a specialized part of the Tulsa County District Court. It is committed to streamlined processes for victims, offender accountability, and due process for all litigants. The IDV Court was designed to enhance victim safety through case consolidation of eligible cases and case coordination.

 

The IDV Court's objectives are to:

  • Promote informed judicial decision making by obtaining comprehensive and up-to-date information on all issues involving the offender and family
  • Promote victim safety through the elimination of conflicting orders and diligent monitoring of offender compliance with court orders.
  • Encourage a coordinated response and greater collaboration among criminal justice, child welfare agencies, and community-based groups who offer assistance and/or services to DV victims.

Kelly Greenough, Tulsa County Domestic Violence Court Director, says there are two goals of the IDV Court - enhance victims' safety and hold the abusers accountable.

"We have sought to put together a system that increases offender accountability tremendously, which we believe directly benefits survivors. The offenders will be checking in with a court services officer with some frequency, they will have regular reviews in front of the judge, their batterer intervention program compliance will be checked on a weekly basis. Any non-compliance will immediately be brought to the attention of the court and they will be put on the docket within a matter of days, not months," says Greenough.

 

The first IDV docket was on Thursday, November 6. The planning team chose not to load the docket immediately with a large number of cases, instead screening cases for eligibility first. Kelly says they expect to see 200 or more cases over the course of a year, based on statistical data from the last three years. Most jurisdictions start with thirty to fifty cases so this is an ambitious number, although Greenough is confident that it's manageable.

 

"The FSC has been a bright spot for me in this entire process. The staff has been tremendously supportive of our efforts. Without the FSC, what we do as a court is not going to be nearly as effective. Without the victims' services side offered by the FSC and DVIS, the court can adjudicate all it wants to all day and it's not going to be enough," says Greenough.

 

As for the recent rise in DV cases in Tulsa, "Folks have been asking in the community ... is DV really worse or are we hearing more about it? I would love to see a community-wide dialogue of leaders around a table try to figure out why this is happening here. You can point to certain things like underemployment, poverty, educational gaps and substance abuse, and various agencies are working diligently on each of these pieces, and yet it does seem to create a perfect storm for DV. We aren't addressing the underlying cause, and that's why I think a task force might be wise," says Greenough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oklahomans for Equality and the Family Safety Center work together on same sex 

intimate partner violence issues

 

Before Oklahomans for Equality started working with the Family Safety Center a little more than five years ago, they worked with DVIS and an attorney when helping clients who had been victims of intimate partner abuse. They were primarily using their own counselors, and Oklahomans for Equality Executive Director Toby Jenkin's personal residence was a safe house.

 

"It was a big house, it's not like I didn't have the room. But at one time I had eleven people in my house for different reasons, I mean we made it work. When I told Suzann Stewart this she helped me get together DVIS, FSC, the Tulsa Police Department, the Tulsa County Sheriff's Department, Tulsa County Social Services, the Community Service Council and the Mental Health Association to show me the possibilities of what they could all do to help," said Jenkins. "All of those agencies were very teachable when it came to helping LGBT people suffering from same sex intimate partner violence. They were more than willing to implement the program, and that's now been going on for over five years. Since thee FSC moved downtown we have worked more closely with them, and even provide transportation for our clients to the FSC who need it. It's important that the agencies are responsive and engaged in culturally-competent training to make sure their processes are LGBT friendly."

 

Toby Jenkins, Executive Director of OKEQ, says Tulsa is way ahead of other cities in dealing with same sex intimate partner violence

Jenkins adds, "Suzann and the FSC are committed to making sure they are current on same sex intimate partner violence issues, and that the staff of the partner agencies are adequately trained. Tulsa is way ahead, our police department is well-trained on LGBT issues, I'd put them against any other police force in the country. They are very responsive to our needs, and of course there are multiple LGBT police officers so that helps."

 

"Recently someone from the Equality Center was in a violent relationship and embarrassed by it ... she thought it would correct itself. Finally it got to the place where she was almost killed. The FSC and DVIS were just wonderful. This person was a person of means, she didn't need financial assistance, but she did need help dealing with all of the emotions, the guilt and shame, associated with it. It was amazing how the FSC and DVIS helped her come to see what a difficult situation she was in through no fault of her own, and that she had not done anything wrong and had been a victim of a deadly situation," said Jenkins.

 

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."

Emilee told her story of survival at FSC's groundbreaking ceremony in 2013. 


There's safety in numbers.

FSC served:

 

2,223 clients in 2014

2,112 clients in 2013

2,349 clients in 2012

 

86.9% of 2014 clients are female

68.4% of clients are ages 25 to 59

 

 

FSC awarded another $650,000 
 GTEA grant for 2014-16

The Family Safety Center has received another $650,000 GTEA grant for 2014-16 from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women. FSC also received a $650,000 GTEA grant for 2013-14.

The Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders Program (Arrest Program) recognizes that sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking are crimes that require the criminal justice system to hold offenders accountable for their actions through investigation, arrest, and prosecution of violent offenders, and through close judicial scrutiny and management of offender behavior.

This discretionary grant program is designed to encourage state, local, and tribal governments; and state, local (including juvenile), and tribal courts to treat sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking as serious violations of criminal law requiring the coordinated involvement of the entire criminal justice system and community-based victim service organizations. The Arrest Program challenges the community to work collaboratively to identify problems, and share ideas that will result in new responses to ensure victim safety and offender accountability.

Tulsa's Family Safety Center has seen 
increase since moving downtown 
        - Tulsa World, 10/16/14

By Mike Averill, World Staff Writer

Since moving into its new downtown location last year, the Family Safety Center is on pace for a 42 percent increase in the number of clients served.

UPCOMING EVENTS AT FSC

Family Legal Issues Lunch and Learn Series

FSC hosts a monthly series of meetings designed to bring awareness, understanding and solutions for domestic violence survivors about civil legal actions and proceedings. The meetings feature brief, expert presentations providing time for questions and answers. Register by calling 918-742-7480 or 918-574-2901. 

Thursday, December 4: Family Court Services

Volunteer-U Training (Location in FSC Conference Room or Courtroom)
 
Friday, December 5: Courtroom Advocacy
    
Family Safety Center
600 Civic Center, First Floor Police Courts Building
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103
918-742-7480
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This newsletter was financed in whole or in part by funds from 

the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as administered by the City of Tulsa. 

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