Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stay Away

On one hand this is a good thing.

On the other hand I am concerned it could be abused or misused against the folks these are taken against. Such as come on over honey, and pick up the kids. then the call to the police.

Mind you I believe the good of this outweighs the bad, let's just not forget the potential for abuse.

Faster action on protective orders
Brian Chasnoff - Express-News

In the wake of near-deadly episodes that some say could have been avoided, officials Wednesday announced yet another tightening of the Police Department's domestic violence policy.
Officers now are instructed to arrest anyone who violates a protective order — regardless of whether the person is at the scene when officers arrive. Police will devote “a reasonable amount of time” to looking for a suspect, and if the search fails, officers must obtain an arrest warrant immediately, Police Chief William McManus said.
“If you violate a protective order and think you can get away with it by fleeing the scene, think again,” McManus said.

Officers in the past often filed such cases with the district attorney's office, which then filed complaints in court — a process that could take days.
In one recent case, a police officer went to the home of a man who'd just violated a protective order for the third time in two weeks. Instead of arresting him, the officer told the man not to contact his ex-wife anymore.

The next day, Andres Vargas shot at his ex-wife and missed. Two days later, on Sept. 8, the convicted felon shot and seriously injured two officers who went to his house to arrest him.
At the time, Marta Pelaez, president and CEO of Family Violence Prevention Services Inc., strongly criticized the Police Department's initial failure to arrest Vargas before the shootings and bemoaned an apparent lack of urgency among officers in pursuing those who violate protective orders.

Wednesday, she expressed relief at the stricter measures.
“You wait for something so long,” Pelaez said. “You don't know how nice it is.”
Typically sought out of fear for one's safety, protective orders restrict people from a range of behaviors, including calling someone or coming within a certain distance of them. McManus said officers would treat all violations equally.
“A violation is a violation,” he said. “Those seemingly insignificant violations have the potential to lead to greater ones.”

Police union president Mike Helle said he supported the initiative, but wondered how an already overtaxed force could handle the increased responsibilities.
No additional resources will be allocated for the initiative, police spokesman Gabe Trevino said.
“Managing it is going to be the issue,” Helle said. “Who's going to do the legwork on it? You already have detectives who are strapped as it is.”
He added, “Certainly, it's one more thing you're putting on top of (the officers') shoulders. But it's work they're going to have to do, when it comes to the safety of the citizens.”

McManus already stiffened the Police Department's domestic violence policy in January 2007, requiring officers to secure arrest warrants immediately for most family violence suspects.
However, police didn't categorize all violations of protective orders — Class A misdemeanors — as instances of family violence. That disconnect was underscored last month when Vargas disregarded an order three times, threatening his ex-wife on the phone and in person, and avoided arrest before opening fire on his ex-wife and later on police.

“Obviously, (violators) are in a mode where they're going to be a danger to that individual,” Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed said Wednesday. “I think we're going to see a positive effect from (the new policy).”

Concerned about family violence, City Manager Sheryl Sculley called Reed recently to discuss potential measures. Meanwhile, officials recorded a significant spike in violations over the past two months: Since September, police responded to 432 calls for violations of protective orders. In all of 2007, there were 257 calls, McManus said.
Sculley on Wednesday said the new policy evolved out of necessity.
“It's the culmination of too many events,” she said. “It is a growing issue.”