November 22, 2000


City Uses Pro-Active Approach to Help Curb Domestic Violence Cases

Using a pro-active approach that combines prevention, intervention and prosecution, the City of Chula Vista Police Department, South Bay Community Services and other community partners are beginning to successfully impact the serious issue of domestic violence.

In Chula Vista, the number of domestic violence incidents reported decreased 33 percent from 1995 to 1999. In addition, a recent survey showed that the number of residents concerned about domestic violence decreased by 13 percent during the past three years--the largest drop in any of the crime categories surveyed.

"Domestic violence is a crime that can occur anywhere and at any time," said Chula Vista Mayor Shirley Horton. "Because it is far more prevalent than most of us realize, it is vitally important that our programs and services provide the safety net needed by the women and children who are the victims of domestic violence."

The Police Department's Family Protection Unit, formed in 1997, currently has eight detectives as well as one full time domestic violence counselor. Counseling also is provided for victims who seek assistance from police, and victim referrals are given for legal aid, shelters and battered women's groups.

"We created the Family Protection Unit in order to better respond to cases of domestic violence as well as address solutions," said Police Chief Rick Emerson. "We are pleased that this specialized unit and other community programs are resulting in a reduction of domestic violence incidents."

One of the complimentary efforts is the Family Violence Response Team, which also was formed in 1997. This partnership—which brings together the Police Department, South Bay Community Services and the County of San Diego Children's Services—has team members who are available 24 hours every day to respond to family violence calls where children are present. In 1998-99, this team responded to 571 calls.

"In every case the victims and their children were offered counseling and other services," aid Kathyn Lembo, Executive Director of South Bay Community Services. "We're pleased to report that 83 percent of them began services."

In 1999, 1,014 domestic violence victims and their children received counseling services, 459 victims were provided legal and/or temporary restraining order assistance, and 164 batters successfully completed the domestic violence treatment program.

South Bay Community Services also operates Casa Seguras, the only confidential shelter and transitional housing for victims of family violence and their children in the South County area. The City of Chula Vista provides partial funding for this program which housed 81 victims and 166 children in fiscal year 1998-1999.

During October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Horton and Lembo were co-chairs of the second annual fundraiser for Casa Seguras. This successful event raised more than $97,000 to help fund the shelter and its services which are used by women and children seeking to escape domestic violence.

Other efforts include a variety of community awareness programs. For example, police staff partnered with local bars and restaurants to place domestic violence brochures in women's restrooms.

For more information about local domestic violence programs and services, call the Police Department's Family Protection Unit at (619) 409-5830, or contact South Bay Community Services (619) 420-3620. To report a domestic violence incident in progress call 9-1-1.

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