Elevating the issue

Domestic violence groups push for policy change


The Mirkarimi saga and the troubling prevalence of domestic violence are disturbing. But if there's a bright side, it's that advocacy groups, including La Casa de Las Madres, the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, and SF National Organization of Women (NOW) have been able to use the incident to raise awareness about domestic violence. Now, they may be affecting city policy.

Upset by Mirkarimi's infamous comment that the incident was a "private matter, a family matter," La Casa de Las Madres has funded several billboards in English and Spanish declaring that "domestic violence is NEVER a private matter" and directing the public to domestic violence response services.

For some, the next step is to permanently codify a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence by law enforcement officers.

In 2003, the International Association of Chiefs of Police wrote a model policy on this topic that has been adopted in some California counties. NOW SF Chair Mona Lisa Wallace told us that several feminist and anti-domestic violence nonprofits are currently in talks with the mayor and SFPD about adopting it in San Francisco.

"We want domestic violence victims to trust that the officers in blue are on their side," said Wallace.

The policy states that "Any officer convicted through criminal proceedings of a domestic violence crime shall be terminated from the department."

Had the policy been in place already, Mirkarimi likely would not have pled guilty, since it would have automatically cost him his job. It also states: "If the facts of the case indicate that domestic violence has occurred or any department policies have been violated, administrative action shall be taken independent of any criminal proceedings as soon as practicable. "

That clause would involve the discretion of police chiefs, commissioners, and the sheriff. It would be hard to apply it to the sheriff, who is an elected official who reports to nobody.

The policy also makes clear that "Any officer determined through an administrative investigation to have committed domestic violence shall be terminated from the department."

When police are charged with crimes, they go through administrative hearing investigation. They are first "tried" by the police chief, and then, if need be, the Police Commission. These administrative investigations can lead to dismissal, though they don't in the majority of cases.

If the policy was in place, and an administrative investigation found that a police officer had engaged in domestic violence, the commission members would have no discretion: they would be obliged to terminate the officer.

In Mirkarimi's case, an "administration investigation," as required under the policy, would likely look very much like the procedure he is already undergoing. It's unlikely that it would have made the process any less drawn-out or consuming of public money, attention, and resources. But, if adopted, the policy would represent a broader city stance on domestic violence beyond terminating Mirkarimi. It includes procedures for screening police candidates with histories of abuse and working with police to prevent them from committing violent crimes.


This approach relies on rearranging the deck chairs instead of doing the hard work needed to address domestic violence and its aftermath.

They should take a look at what we in the LGBT community did to confront anti-gay violence.

We began showing up in court when perps where on trial to make certain that judges knew the community was watching and considered this important.

We began tracking and reporting on anti-gay crimes, under a range of categories, so that there was documentation.

We began issuing report cards on how judges handled anti-gay assault cases, to hold them accountable.

We insisted that the criminal justice system began accounting for hate crimes.

We also linked up with groups ranging from CUAV to the Chelsea Gay Association.

Sadly, San Franciscoo groups have data that is years out of date and includes no information on the disposition of cases.

Sadly, San Francisco groups have not insisted that our city link with other cities in creating a universal registry of convicted domestic violence offenders, similar to the registry for sex offenders, so that the public can determine in advance if the lothario approaching them has a history of convictions for domestic violence. That registry system is underway in nearby counties but only as a pilot program. San Francisco declined to participate.

Creating new laws and enforcement procedures is no substitute for confronting this issue before there are more victims. It is no substitute for a system that holds all parts of the system accountable, including the judiciary.

How can the presiding judge of our city have been charged with domestic violence, skated with a clever deal, and then been joined on the bench by the lawyer who got him off the most serious charges -- and yet the claim is that we need new broader and tougher laws.

This is sadly little more than a shell game to hide what isn’t being done by pointing fingers at others.

Posted by CitiReport on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

Domestic violence is not a private matter, it is a crimial act and is against the law.

Posted by EarlRichards on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 11:15 pm

Ross was charged with domestic violence. He did not plead guilty to it, nor was he convicted.

Posted by Guest Ann Garrison on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 11:50 am

or else you'd never claim it was nonviolent.

"Viloence" can be as little as a threat or a refusal to comply with a request although in this case, as we all know, there was actual violence.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 11:57 am

According to the law, it is a NONviolent offense. Ross has not been convicted of domestic violence. The press cannot seem to get this right. Whatever else you have to say about Ross, he has NOT been convicted of domestic violence.

Posted by Guest Ann Garrison on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

and received the same punishment as for DV and has admitted DV and has apologized for his DV. Your apologist attempts to diminsh that diminishes all women who have suffered similar abuse.

Your comments are disgraceful.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

Bruising your wife in front of your child and withholding food from your wife and child really isn't the same thing as like, killing them or something. What is the big deal here?!?!

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

Keep up with this crap, mister, and I'm going to send you to bed without your supper.

Posted by marcos on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

But merely trying to deflect?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

As did Eliana. And that threats to withhold subsistence from one's family as punishment for alleged transgressions (like arguing) are commonplace in the world he inhabits.

Using that frame of reference I can now understand why Eliana was so grateful that Ross "fed us well" on their sojourn to Monterey. She'd been reduced to finding joy in the fact that her husband agreed to take her and their child to the drive-through at McDonalds.

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

But Ross did have a "whopper" of a panty collection, apparently.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

No, I'm saying that most all parents have said that to a kid at some point.

Posted by marcos on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 1:04 pm
Posted by Guest on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

Yet another adult child of adult children...

Posted by marcos on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

It's reassuringly predictable.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

Anonymous scumbag.

Posted by marcos on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

OMG, it's an anonymous chatroom!

Posted by Markos on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

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