Local opinion: County Attorney's Office dedicated to fighting domestic violence (2024)

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

Local opinion: County Attorney's Office dedicated to fighting domestic violence (1)

Re: the June 29 article “Domestic violence and guns in Pima County” and the June 30 article “Domestic violence victims are being let down.”

Two recent op-eds about domestic violence may have caused some confusion in our community. It’s important to note that the vital work done at the Pima County Attorney’s Office is accompanied by various local agencies in multiple courts that cover numerous angles of this disturbing and dynamic problem. One of the many devastating consequences of COVID-19 was a spike in, and escalation of, domestic violence calls. When the new administration arrived at the Pima County Attorney’s Office in January of 2021, the first unit to be addressed for increased staffing was the Domestic Violence Unit.

The volume of cases is still high, and the work is far from being done to make sure we are holding accountable those who are causing harm in our community. There’s no question that this effort has to be handled as a divide-and-conquer strategy. One such agency, Emerge, is the service provider for Tucson City Court misdemeanor DV cases. That Court is a separate jurisdiction meaning that PCAO lacks jurisdiction in those cases (has no authority). City Court produces such a high volume of work for Emerge, that the organization has not regularly worked on PCAO cases in the Justice Courts or in Superior Court on felonies in many years. Felony Domestic Violence work is handled by PCAO and its many incredible divisions. Here are some examples of the remarkable work done over the years and currently in effect:

Number of felonies handled in 2021 (1515 cases), 2022 (1491 cases), 2023 (1485),

Number of Misdemeanors handled in unincorporated Pima County in 2021 (1218 cases), 2022 (1611 cases), 2023 (1416 cases),

Victims assisted by VSD: 2021 (2790), 2022 (2773), 2023 (4518) and so far in 2024 (4287),

Highlighting lethality risks in RED INK for judges at Initial Appearances who are making decisions about detention,

PCAO’s Victim Services Division staff and volunteers are responding on scene with law enforcement calls to work with victims 24/7,

Our team participates in the Pima County DV Fatality Task Force Review and meets regularly with members, along with training on the Arizona Inmate Risk Assessment Instrument System (APRAIS) protocol meetings with law enforcement,

PCAO has Dedicated AZPOST Certified DV Detectives,

Every October, PCAO Detectives work the DV fugitive warrant list for those especially evading the law,

PCAO was awarded grant money to ensure we have funding to conduct strangulation exams, and

PCAO received the Arizona STOP Grant/Violence Against Women Grant from the Office of the Governor. This grant supports our work with victims of misdemeanor domestic violence cases in Pima County Justice Court. We also have two dedicated victim advocates who attend that court and collaborate with prosecutors in providing resources, safety planning, information on the criminal justice system, victims’ rights information, and general advocacy in court.

Although PCAO has worked on many pieces of legislation in the last 3.5 years, the first two bills to successfully become law were in this realm: doubling the length of Orders of Protection (restraining orders) to provide victims with extra protection as COVID wore on, exacerbating the problem.

It’s important that agencies work together, now more than ever, to support each other through these difficult times. We have been, and remain committed to, the safety and well-being of our community.

The Pima County Attorney’s Office has a Domestic Violence Unit, a Victim Services Division, and dedicated DV Detectives.

Laura Conover was elected Pima County Attorney in 2020 and began her administration in January 2021, proudly serving the Old Pueblo.

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Local opinion: County Attorney's Office dedicated to fighting domestic violence (2024)

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