Join the crusade: Help end domestic violence in Truckee Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Join the crusade: Help end domestic violence in Truckee Tahoe

Rodney R. Gillespie
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, an excellent time for Nevada County to demonstrate its commitment to ending domestic violence and supporting numerous individuals who are victims. Moreover, it is a wonderful opportunity to educate the public, including our youth, regarding the seriousness of domestic violence and the prevalence of this epidemic in our lives.

Since the early 1970s, activists in the battered womenand#8217;s movement have been working to make reforms in the criminal justice system to create a more responsive, consistent and coordinated effort to address domestic violence cases. Reform efforts have focused on shifting the responsibility for holding batterers accountable for their use of violence from the victim to the community. The development of coordinated community responses to domestic violence focuses on reforming individual components of the judicial system, addressing concerns about fragmentation, formulating a common vision and uniting in support of public accountability. It also requires other contributing social problems be addressed (e.g., poverty, adequate housing, affordable childcare, child support enforcement and alcohol and drug abuse).

Significant changes have occurred in 40 years, which enable victims of such abuse, as well as children exposed to domestic violence to receive a wide range of support services. Substantial progress in protecting and furthering the rights of victims has been made. In November 2008, California voters passed Marsyand#8217;s Law, which amended our California constitution and further enhanced the Victimsand#8217; Bill of Rights.

Domestic violence is widespread in Nevada County. In 2009, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition served 804 victims of domestic violence, answered 1,582 crisis calls and provided 2,286 bed nights of safe shelter for 40 women and 29 children. Tahoe Womenand#8217;s Services answered 82 crisis calls pertaining to domestic violence in the Truckee/North Lake Tahoe area and provided 1,323 bed nights of safe shelter. Nearly a quarter of Nevada County Victim/Witness Assistance Centerand#8217;s services to new crime victims were to victims of domestic violence. In 2009 the Nevada County Sheriffand#8217;s Office responded to 128 calls and made 21 arrests related to domestic violence; Truckee Police Department responded to 60 domestic violence resulting in 11 felony arrests; Grass Valley Police Department responded to 168 domestic violence calls resulting in 54 arrests; Nevada City Police responded to six domestic violence calls resulting in four arrests and the Nevada County District Attorneyand#8217;s Office filed 136 criminal charges.

In Nevada County, the Probation Department, its Victim/Witness Assistance Center, the District Attorneyand#8217;s Office, Sheriffand#8217;s Office, Child Protective Services, Tahoe Womenand#8217;s Services, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition, Women of Worth, and the Truckee, Nevada City and Grass Valley Police Departments are committed to a coordinated community response by developing and implementing policies and procedures that improve interagency coordination and lead to more uniform responses. Components of a coordinated community response include: swift and diligent efforts to apprehend the offender; crisis intervention, follow-up support and advocacy for victims; provisions for treatment and intervention services for children who are exposed to family violence; aggressive and prompt prosecution; active monitoring of offender compliance with probation; court mandated participation in batterer rehabilitation programs and monitoring of the system-wide responses to domestic violence cases.

Each agency also strives to reduce the incidences of domestic violence through prevention and education. Together, these agencies seek to increase the awareness of the impact domestic violence has upon victims, families, children exposed to such violence, and the community as a whole.

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Collectively, the agencies have received the support of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, Nevada City, Grass Valley and Truckee City/Town Councils by adopting resolutions/proclamations recognizing October 2010, as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Nevada County and each community. These proclamations lend official recognition to educating the public on the issues surrounding domestic violence. During October and throughout the coming year please demonstrate your commitment by joining our effort to put an end to domestic violence.

and#8212; Rodney R. Gillespie is a Senior Deputy Probation Officer with Nevada County Probation Department and the Director of the Nevada County Victim/Witness Assistance Center