BIRMINGHAM — The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Alabama has announced a new initiative to fight domestic violence, Operation Safe Families.
Through Operation Safe Families, the U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona’s office will work with federal, state, and local law enforcement to use federal firearm laws to combat domestic violence. Additionally, the office will work closely with partners in the community who are focused on prevention, education, and survivor support.
Operation Safe Families is a partnership between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Birmingham Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, One Place Family Justice Center, YWCA, Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, and the Crisis Center.
“Domestic violence tears at the fabric of our communities and affects every demographic of society,” Escalona said in a Tuesday news release.
“Through Operation Safe Families, we look forward to working with our local partners to combat domestic violence in the Northern District of Alabama. Our top priority is to keep our communities safe by keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.”
Toby Taylor, ATF Acting Special Agent in Charge, said removing the criminal element that uses a firearm to facilitate violent crimes related to domestic violence is a priority to ATF.
“These focused investigations will have a lasting impact within our communities,” Taylor said.
Federal firearm laws prohibit domestic abusers from possessing guns. These firearm laws can be used to prosecute abusers – often without the testimony of victims, who may be hesitant to testify in a court proceeding against their abuser.
The pertinent federal laws that may relate to domestic violence crimes fall into two broad categories:
- Crimes under the Gun Control Act, which prevents prohibited persons – including convicted felons, individuals previously convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses, and individuals subject to certain protective orders—from possessing firearms, or from lying to firearms dealers about their status
- Crimes under the Violence Against Women Act, which prohibits interstate stalking, cyber stalking, and using interstate commerce to commit domestic violence or violate protective orders
Beginning this month, assistant U.S. attorneys from the Northern District of Alabama along with agents from the ATF Birmingham Field Division will provide training to local District Attorneys’ Offices and federal, state, and local law enforcement to assist those agencies in selecting cases involving domestic abusers that are appropriate for federal prosecution.