by William Crum
OKLAHOMA CITY – Police Chief Bill Citty told the city council on Tuesday that community outreach efforts, including the recently opened Family Justice Center, are gaining traction.
The Family Justice Center, focused on stemming domestic violence, has had more than 1,400 walk-ins since opening in February at 1140 N Hudson Ave., Citty said.
The center gathers together police, prosecutors, legal aid, social workers, the infant crisis center and a variety of other agencies, making it a safe place for domestic violence victims to get legal and personal help.
“The word’s getting out,” Citty said.
He said domestic violence contributes indirectly or incidentally to a significant amount of crime, meaning the center has the long-term potential to reduce crime overall.
Statistics show a center in San Diego has reduced domestic violence homicides more than 90 percent and officer-involved shootings by 50 percent, Citty said. Oklahoma City records 11 to 12 homicides directly attributable to domestic violence each year, he said.
In a review of his 2017-18 budget proposal, Citty also said:
• Officers going door-to-door in northeast Oklahoma City have met with 2,000 residents. In one case, a family invited officers in for dinner, and they stayed and talked for two hours.
“It’s good for the community, as far as building relationships, but we’re also finding out a lot of things that maybe they wouldn’t call and tell us because they were afraid of retaliation from somebody in the community or a gang member down the street,” Citty said.
• Police so far have seen “good success” in a partnership with the Municipal Court to steer young offenders away from temptations of crime.
Funded by a grant, officers work with 15- to 18-year-olds on issues including character development, conflict resolution, and gang- and drug-prevention. Officers even have helped youths find jobs.
“Having a job, staying busy, they can stay in school, keep off the streets,” Citty said. “Many of these inner-city kids, it surprises you how many are helping support their families and putting food on the table.”
For youths who complete the 6- to 8-week course, Municipal Court Presiding Judge Philippa James dismisses the charges, Citty said.
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