Commission combats domestic violence in Orange Co.
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County's Domestic Violence Commission told county leaders Tuesday what they think should be done to combat the issue.
Mayor Teresa Jacobs asked for the commission's help when 10 killings in less than a year were linked to domestic violence.
A county commissioner said he's concerned so many accused offenders were able to walk the streets freely, and that's one of the big things the domestic violence commission said it planned to address.
It's separate from Orange County's Board of Commissioners.
Circuit Judge Alice Blackwell and Commission Co-Chair Dick Batchelor met with law enforcement, victim's advocates and a number of people with experience in dealing with domestic violence crimes.
They came up with almost 30 pages of 20 recommendations that will take the help of several agencies to implement.
One recommendation they feel is important is having a separate holding cell for the accused offenders before their first appearances that wouldn't have access to a phone.
The Harbor House helps victims and the director told WFTV a lot of times the first person a victim hears from is the person who abused them, so they want to cut that out.
Carol Wick is the CEO of the Harbor House where domestic violence victims can get help.
"It's really devastating and sometimes we wonder why victims won't work with police," Wick said.
The county's Board of Commissioners just allocated $175,000 in the budget to add more advocates who can walk the victims through every step of the legal process.
The commission wants law enforcement to have access to all orders of no contact. They want to increase the level of training 911 operators have so that they can better work with victims when violence first occurs.
"When you get that 911 call, if the 911 operator is not trained on how to respond to a call, how to dispatch … the system starts to break down right there," Batchelor said.
The commission hopes to work with the State Attorney's Office, judges and lawmakers to make it more difficult for accused offenders to get out of jail.
Also, community education was a big component of the commission's objective.
"We have to have the will to do this because children who grow up in families where there's domestic violence are forever damaged by it. People need to be safe in their homes," said Circuit Judge Alice Blackwell.