Story by: Ashley Gooden
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WBMA) — 100 people between 30 different agencies are coming together to figure out what they can do to reduce and stop domestic violence.
Tuesday’s seminar was part of the U.S. Attorney’s “Operation Safe Families” initiative in partnership with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Birmingham Police, One Place Family Justice Center and many others.
Every year, Jefferson County dispatch takes more than 6,000 emergency domestic violence calls.
The initiative is to help lower that number, but also to make sure victims receive justice and their abusers receive more significant sentences.
“It happens to people from all walks of life, all socioeconomic walks of life, and there’s something that can be done. This is not a situation where there’s nothing law enforcement can do,” says Prim Escalona, U.S. Attorney Northern District of Alabama.
Escalona is on a mission.
“I just know that when you’re in that moment, all you can think about is how to keep yourself and your children safe, so if we can do anything to help women experiencing that trauma feel safe in their homes, feel like their children are safe and give them a minute to take a breath and figure out their next step, that is something I feel very passionate about,” she says.
Law enforcement became students at the seminar and learned when and how to develop federal cases when domestic violence is involved.
“It’s really important that our victims know that we are there for them, all they have to do is make a phone call, and we’re going to be prepared for whatever they’re facing,” says
Sgt. Joni Money, Assistant Public Information Officer at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Federal law already prohibits gun possession for domestic abusers.
This training makes sure agencies are familiar with different ways to handle domestic situations, especially during a pandemic and especially since when an abuser has access to a gun the likelihood of the victim being killed increases 500 percent.
“The thing that scares me is what we don’t know and what we won’t know for a while because we aren’t seeing as many people who are out in the communities or the people who are reporting those types of incidents,” says Escalona.
The One Place Family Justice Center is one location in the area that provides several resources under one roof to domestic violence victims, if you need more information, click here.