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August 1, 2012 - Minutes

Full Panel - August 1, 2012
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
9 – 11 am
City Hall, Room 408
San Francisco, CA 94102


Members present:
Kathy Black, La Casa de las Madres
JaMel Perkins, Partners Ending Domestic Violence
Dr. Antonio Ramirez, POCOVI
Andrea Shorter, Commission on the Status of Women
Ken Theisen, Bay Area Legal Aid
Beverly Upton, Domestic Violence Consortium
Dr. Emily Murase, Department on the Status of Women
Excused: Dion Roberts, Mary Elizabeth Inn

Other Attendees/Speakers:
Tina Gilbert, Adult Probation; Teresa Castora, Department of Emergency Management; Maria Bee and Jean Roland, Office of the District Attorney; Lt. Arturo Stellini, Police Department; Minouche Kandel, Bay Area Legal Aid; Stacey Hoang (Department staff).

Chair Andrea Shorter called the meeting to order at 9:15 am. The Oversight Panel approved the agenda with changes to set a special meeting for after August 16. [Shorter/Theisen/ALL]

Minutes approved pending changes to the San Francisco Police Department’s Special Victims Unit and Domestic Violence Response Unit sections. [Theisen/Perkins/ALL]

A. Department Head Meetings
1. May 23, 2012: Meeting with Police Department Chief Greg Suhr
Dr. Emily Murase reviewed the agenda items discussed with Police Chief Suhr: SFPD’s Crime Data Warehouse, the JUSTIS Project, Domestic Violence Response Unit’s (DVRU) transition to the Special Victims Unit (SVU), domestic violence training plan, and status of bench warrant backlogs. Panel Member Ken Theisen expressed concern about the dilution of DVRU within SVU. Panel Member Kathy Black explained that she has staff housed at DVRU and, so far, there is a clear demarcation of DVRU. Ms. Black explained that this structure was designed based on recommendations of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).

2. June 4, 2012: Meeting with Adult Probation Department Chief Wendy Still
Dr. Murase reviewed the agenda items discussed with Chief Still: Batterers Intervention Program (BIP), Stalking Unit, motions to revoke probation, recidivism, language capacity, and staffing. Panel members who attended the meeting welcomed the Chief’s collaborative style and openness to community input and feedback.

PUBLIC COMMENT: Tina Gilbert, Division Director and former director of the Domestic Violence Unit, reported on continuing efforts to re-certify batterer intervention programs. The Domestic Violence Consortium, building on a previous certification process conducted with Dr. Joanne McAllister, is working closely with the Domestic Violence Unit. Ms. Gilbert also reported that Ramona Massey has joined the Adult Probation Department to oversee a new child abuse caseload, and the department is reviewing the certification of the new child abuse intervention program to be offered by the Department of Public Health’s Violence Intervention Program (VIP).

Mr. Theisen asked about the status of hiring a Spanish speaking officer in the Domestic Violence Unit. Ms. Gilbert reported that a staff reorganization is underway and this gap will be addressed. As for the department budget, overall staffing is expected to be stable. Dr. Murase asked if the Batterer Intervention Program’s Community Advisory Committee will be convened. Ms. Gilbert stated that department leadership recognizes the value of the Committee and it will be convened in the near future. She will notify the Panel of the meeting date when it is determined.

3. July 27, 2012: Meeting with Superior Court Judge Patrick Mahoney
Dr. Murase reviewed the agenda items discussed with Judge Mahoney: state budget cuts to the courts, anger management classes versus batterer intervention programs, Family Violence Council, and the JUSTIS Project. Panel Member Beverly Upton reported on the issue of anger management vs. batterer intervention programs and the community concern that judges are mandating anger management classes when batterer intervention programs would be more appropriate. Judge Mahoney stated that greater awareness about batterer intervention programs would help the bench make fully informed decisions. Ms. Upton offered to create a fact sheet with relevant information for the court.

At the meeting, Ms. Black urged greater use of supervised visitation in child custody cases where domestic violence is a factor. She was happy to hear that judges were making increased referrals to agencies conducting supervised visitation.

When asked what were some trends he was seeing, Judge Mahoney stated that he was concerned with the high number of truancy cases among young women due to depression. With the recent update on the Girls’ Report which shows that female LGBT teens have the highest rates of depression, Panel Chair Andrea Shorter stated that the Department on the Status of Women has started to pursue linkages regarding girls’ depression.

B. Committee on Housing for Survivors of Domestic Violence
No Report

C. JUS.T.I.S. Governance Council
Dr. Murase reported on the May 24, June 28, and July 26 meetings. The City Administrator’s Office hired 3 JUSTIS staff which the Council met at the June meeting. With Susan Giffin’s leadership, all police stations have been connected to the new Crime Data Warehouse since July. Ms. Upton, who attended the July meeting, stated that the City’s Grand Jury Report on the status of all City technology projects highlights the lack of progress of the JUSTIS Project. With the recent hiring of 3 new staff, the project is expected to move at a faster pace. The next JUSTIS meeting is scheduled for August 23, 2012.

D. Family Violence Council
Ms. Upton reported that with support from the Child Abuse Prevention Center and the Public Health Department, Suzanne Bischalaney, a graduate student in public health, has worked over the summer collecting data and drafting an update for the 2011 report which will be unveiled at the August 15, 2012 Family Violence Council meeting. The 2010 Comprehensive Report on Family Violence has been utilized much more than anticipated by the City, the community, and reporters. Ms. Upton stated that one of the Council’s priorities has been the piloting of a child abuse prevention program to be in compliance with state law that requires all counties to have a child abuse intervention program. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 3-5 pm, 400 McAllister Street, Room 617.

E. Batterer Accountability
Panel Member Antonio Ramirez had no additional items to report as his concerns were covered by the Adult Probation Department.

F. Current Issues in Domestic Violence (including adjudicated cases)
Ms. Upton reported that the Perla Lewis Trial is scheduled to start on October 26. Secure Communities and language access capability make cases complex and is a concern for immigrants and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) people. Dr. Ramirez stated that a conference in October will address the issue of immigration.

Ms. Black expressed concerns about the potential negative impact on a case should the Panel discuss nonadjudicated cases. Panel members agreed to limit discussions to publicly available information such as court dates.

G. Department Updates
1. Police Department
Captain Denise Flaherty who oversees the Special Victims Unit (SVU) was not able to attend the meeting. Lt. Arturo Stellini urged the Panel to invite not only the Captain, but the staff directly responsible for domestic violence cases, to provide an update on SVU. He pointed out his concerns with statistics cited in the May minutes, and Dr. Murase welcomed corrections of any inaccuracies contained in the minutes.

In terms of the SVU, Lt. Stellini reported that the SVU is comprised of 2 divisions supervised by 2 lieutenants in charge of 2 major categories of crimes. Lt. Michelle Jean oversees domestic violence cases, and Lt. Stellini oversees elder abuse cases. In addition, Captain Flaherty has asked Lt. Stellini to develop POST certified training for members of the SVU. Lt. Stellini explained that there are 2 teams of 2 on call 24/7.

Mr. Theisen recommends inviting Captain Flaherty and/or Lt. Jean to speak at the next meeting.

2. Adult Probation
An update was provided by Tina Gilbert previously.

3. District Attorney’s Office
Maria Bee, Director of Victims Services, announced that the District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Month event will be held on October 29, 2012 at the San Francisco Main Library. She said they continue to reach out to Limited English Proficiency families to get more involved and found that most women are not interested in home visits, although some will meet at an outside location. Most of those cases are not charged for various reasons and repeated attempts are necessary to reach this population.

Jean Roland, Managing Deputy District Attorney for the Domestic Violence Reponse Unit, reported that the Stalking Task Force will meet at 3:30 pm on August 17, 2012. Ms. Roland reported that she met with Deputy Public Defender Elizabeth Hilton to discuss pre-trial diversion in domestic violence cases. Given the status of state law, they agreed that it was not possible to conduct pre-trial diversion in such cases. District Attorney George Gascon emphasized this point in a recent television interview on ABC7. Ms. Upton recognized Ms. Roland’s leadership in highlighting the state law that prohibits pre-trial diversion. As for the department budget, staffing is expected to remain stable. Ms. Roland highlighted the trend of an increasing number of misdemeanor cases being filed.

A. Officer Involved Domestic Violence Policy
Ms. Upton reported that a policy is currently being developed for San Francisco using the model policies developed by Tacoma, Washington and other jurisdictions. The group meets twice a week and a draft policy for San Francisco is about 75% complete. The Police, Sheriff, and Adult Probation are all looking into implementing related internal policies. In addition, Monica Walters from Cameron House has become involved in this work. With her expertise and previous work on the Washington policy, her leadership is welcome.

B. Citywide Workplace Policy on Domestic Violence
Dr. Murase stated that the City currently does not have a domestic violence workplace policy and requested feedback from the Panel as to how to proceed. Dr. Murase referenced the two documents for review: The first document is a more general policy for adoption Citywide, and the second is a more detailed policy to be adopted by each department.

Ms. Upton stated that she shared the City of Los Angeles’ domestic violence policy with the Department of Human Resources previously. She expressed concern for having to negotiate with each Department and recommends issuing a firm standard policy to be used for all Departments.

The Panel moved to approve the draft Citywide Policy with changes. [Theisen/Perkins/ALL]

C. Citywide MOU on Domestic Violence
Dr. Murase referred to the Citywide MOU drafted on March 15, 2011 and asked Panel Members for recommendations for next steps. With the recent local discussions on domestic violence, this is a good opportunity to further strengthen the domestic violence community. As the Citywide MOU was part of an audit recommendation, Panel Members Theisen, Black, and Upton all supported moving forward with the Citywide MOU pending name changes on the signature page. Ms. Upton stated that this could be an opportunity to bring the new mayor into the loop and to raise awareness on the issue and to sign it during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

A. Ethics Commission Proceedings
Dr. Murase recommended postponing this agenda item and to schedule a Special Meeting after the Ethics Commission recommendations have been issued on August 16. A Special Meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 20, 2012 from 11:30 am to 1 pm at a location to be determined.

No public comment.

The meeting adjourned at 11:05 am. [Shorter/Theisen/ALL]

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