COLUMBIA — Attorney General Chris Koster announced plans Tuesday afternoon to offer greater protections to domestic violence victims.
Announced at news conferences in Kansas City, St. Louis and Jefferson City, Koster’s 12 recommendations were created by the Domestic Violence Task Force, a unit he assembled in September. During a series of three meetings throughout the fall, the task force re-evaluated the state’s domestic violence laws for the first time in 30 years.
The Attorney General's Task Force on Domestic Violence released a report Tuesday with seven recommended changes to the state's domestic violence laws and five recommended best practices for law enforcement agencies and judges.
The recommended changes to domestic violence laws are:
- Create consistent terminology for orders of protection for both children and adults.
- Amend the process for orders of protection.
- Authorize the Division of Probation and Parole to establish standards for batterer intervention programs.
- Limit municipal jurisdiction over those who repeatedly commit domestic assault or violate orders of protection.
- Waive filing fees for motions for contempt to seek enforcement of existing orders of protection.
- Allow courts to require the Division of Probation and Parole to supervise probation related to domestic violence misdemeanors.
- Allow domestic violence service agencies to retain some funding for administrative costs to meet state and federal accounting requirements.
The recommendations for law enforcement agencies and judges are:
- Train officers to produce more detailed reports of investigations.
- Form relationships between law enforcement agencies and domestic violence advocates.
- Report specific terms of orders of protection when entering information on the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System.
- Use courts' existing ability to make special dockets in order to monitor compliance with orders of protection and with conditions of probation.
- Make greater use of existing court authority to set conditions of bond.
Some of the task force’s recommendations included creating consistent terminology for protecting children and adults, establishing collaborative working relationships between law enforcement and advocacy agencies, and easing the barriers to obtaining an order of protection for victims.
Colleen Coble, CEO of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, spearheaded the task force and was one of two members from Columbia. State Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, was the other.
The task force goals included providing greater protection for victims as well as increasing penalties for those found guilty of domestic violence.
Barbara Hodges, executive director at True North, a shelter in Columbia, was hopeful that the recommendations of the task force would soon become law.
“I think that all the changes that they have recommended will help the system hold the abuser accountable instead of the victim, which helps her remain safe,” Hodges said.