In recent reports, statistics show that every 15 seconds, a woman is battered. The same reports indicate that battery causes more injury to women than auto accidents, street muggings and rape combined.
A victim of family violence may seek a Protective Order from the Dallas County District Attorney’s office when they decide to take that critically important step.
This order prohibits a person who commits family violence from being within a certain distance of the victim and prohibits any further contact or abuse.
When a victim of family violence makes a decision to obtain help, a system should be in place to provide the victim with timely and responsive assistance. As of July 2, the Dallas County Commissioners Court approved the Protective Order Rapid Response Team concept.
This team is composed of major county departments that deal with the process of a Protective Order and has re-located certain departments in order to provide services at one central location.
In the previous method of issuing a Protective Order, time was of a great concern. This was mainly due to the fact that departments that produced the paperwork were located at two different locations, not even within walking distance of each other.
This not only burdened the staff that had to travel back and forth, but also the victim who would be left sometimes confused because of the logistics.
The location issue was addressed by the task force by obtaining an agreement from the Family District Court judges along with their associate judges to have them actually do the traveling between the two locations instead of victims or other staff.
This will mean that one judge will travel one day a week to another court in order to hear the cases. The judges will alternate this duty so that hearings will be held daily and disposal of cases will be timely.
Another area of concern was the time frame between filing the affidavit and serving the Notice of Protective Order on the respondent (the person who is alleged to have committed family violence). This will improve from what was an average of 20 days to approximately two days.
When a victim makes the choice to take control of her or his particular situation and pursue protection, time is critical.
By obtaining quicker service on the Respondent, this puts them on notice that violence will not be tolerated and that a court proceeding is scheduled and that certain penalties apply if they violate the terms of the Order of the Court. Now, because of the location and the cooperation of numerous departments within the County, response time is shortened, which allows for quicker protection for the victim.
With this collaborative effort and having a centralized location, the ease and efficiency with which victims can secure a Protective Order is greatly enhanced. The greatest need of family violence victims is their safety. Protective Orders are life-saving.
This was only possible because of extraordinary efforts of certain individuals and departments within the County. Thank you to the following for their help: the district attorney, family district judges and their associate judges, criminal district judges, constables and their deputies, the district clerk, data services, budget department and the Commissioners Court.