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Sheriff's Office Awarded Grant to Fund Domestic Violence Firearms Compliance and Legal Advocacy (FCLA) Program

Redwood City, Calif. – San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks and Supervisor Mark Church have announced the county has received funding for a special law enforcement program to ensure firearms are surrendered when a court issues a temporary restraining order to protect a victim of domestic violence.

Created in 2007, the Sheriff's “Domestic Violence Firearms Compliance Unit” worked collaboratively with the Superior Court of San Mateo County, San Mateo County Family Law Facilitator, CORA, San Mateo County Victims Advocacy groups and local law enforcement agencies to follow up on court ordered domestic violence firearm surrender violations to disarm the restrained person and achieve compliance. Funding for the program was provided by the Department of Justice for a two-year period, which expired on Dec. 31, 2009. Supervisor Mark Church contacted California Attorney General Jerry Brown last fall, urging continuation of the program, and the state agreed to continue funding of the program for an additional six months, through July 1, 2010.

Though the state was unable to continue funding for that program, the Board of Supervisor today accepted the Community-Defined Solutions to Violence Against Women Program grant from the US Department of Justice. The grant award is for a total amount of $675,000 for a two year period commencing October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2012. It will create the “San Mateo County Domestic Violence Firearms Compliance and Legal Advocacy (FCLA) Program,” to systematically and fully enforce California's gun law pertaining to restrained parties by funding one full-time Sheriff's Detective to staff the Domestic Violence Firearms Compliance Unit. The remainder of the award will be used for contracted services provided by CORA, BayLegal and Legal Aid.

“The Domestic Violence Firearms Compliance Program was very effective in getting guns out of the hands of domestic violence perpetrators and creating a safer environment for those in domestic violence situations, so I'm pleased our public safety efforts will continue,” said Supervisor Church.

The grant will allow for the collaboration of the Sheriff's Office, CORA (Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse), Bay Area Legal Aid (BayLegal), and Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County to: 1) systematically and fully enforce California's gun laws pertaining to restrained parties; 2) improve the seamlessness of the continuum of services; 3) strengthen legal advocacy for each victim by providing early and continuing information, advocacy and support; and 4) increase batterer accountability by enhancing opportunities for reporting and prosecuting domestic violence crimes.

This will be accomplished by assigning one Deputy Sheriff to track, investigate and enforce Domestic Violence Protective Court Orders directing seizure and storage of firearms surrendered or confiscated from persons subject to court ordered firearms prohibition. CORA will provide victim-centered services to victims of domestic violence who are seeking civil restraining orders and/or who are witnesses in criminal domestic violence prosecutions. BayLegal will provide education on the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) restraining order action process. Legal Aid will provide coordination for pro bono representation to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking seeking civil restraining orders.

According to the Justice Department, there are about 260,000 active restraining orders in California. In 2005, 125 women were killed by their husbands, ex-husbands or boy friends in California, and 26 men were killed by their wives, ex-wives or girlfriends.
In San Mateo County, courts issue about 2,100 temporary restraining orders involving accusations of domestic violence every year. Last year alone, 142 firearms were either seized from or surrendered by restrained parties.

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA), Bay Legal's Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinic and Legal Aid are all partners in the program, and will play vital roles that will enhance the District Attorney's Office's ability to pursue prosecution of these violations and promote batterer accountability.

Unit Statistics – Yearly Totals

2007 (May-Dec)

902
Restraining orders (new & re-issued TRO/ROAH) received for review
27
Orders personally served by DVFCU detectives
13
Follow-up investigations resulting in restrained party no longer in possession of firearm
53
Firearms seized or surrendered from restrained parties by DVFCU or local law enforcement

2008

2,134
Restraining orders (new & re-issued TRO/ROAH) received for review
65
Orders personally served by DVFCU detectives
10
Follow-up investigations resulting in restrained party no longer in possession of firearm
85
Firearms seized or surrendered from restrained parties by DVFCU or local law enforcement

2009

2,081
Restraining orders (new & re-issued TRO/ROAH) received for review
47
Orders personally served by DVFCU detectives
135
Follow-up investigations resulting in restrained party no longer in possession of firearm
142
Firearms seized or surrendered from restrained parties by DVFCU or local law enforcement

2007 (Jan-Jun)

897
Restraining orders (new & re-issued TRO/ROAH) received for review
9
Orders personally served by DVFCU detectives
111
Follow-up investigations resulting in restrained party no longer in possession of firearm
55
Firearms seized or surrendered from restrained parties by DVFCU or local law enforcement
335
Total number of firearms seized or surrendered from restrained parties by DVFCU or local law enforcement
Article Date: 
January 15