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February 6, 2013

Full Panel - February 6, 2013
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
9:00 – 11:00 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

Members excused:
Dion Roberts, Mary Elizabeth Inn

Other Attendees/Speakers:
Lisa Hoffman, Department of Emergency Management; Jane Bernard-Powers, Professor Emerita of San Francisco State University and President of Democratic Women in Action; Elizabeth Laferriere, Department Policy Fellow.

Dr. Emily Murase called the meeting to order at 9:12 am. The Oversight Panel approved the agenda with no changes.

Minutes from the November 7, 2012 meeting were approved. [Perkins/Thiesen/ALL]

A. Department Updates
1. Joint Police Commission and Commission on the Status of Women Hearing
Dr. Murase reported on the December 6, 2012 joint meeting of the Police Commission and the Commission on the Status of Women (COSW). The focus was on San Francisco’s response to domestic and family violence.

The following took place at the joint meeting:
• The tri-chairs of the Family Violence Council (FVC) presented the key findings and recommendations of the 2011 Comprehensive Report on Family Violence in San Francisco.
• Deputy City Administrator Linda Yeung presented a report on JUS.T.I.S.
• A representative from the San Francisco Police Department’s (SFPD) Working Group on Language Access, Samara Marion, provided an overview on the group’s work.
• Police Chief Greg Suhr provided an overview of the SFPD Special Victims Unit (SVU).
• The joint commission recognized the ten year anniversary of the Justice & Courage Project on Domestic Violence Policy Reform. Andrea Shorter, in her capacity as COSW commissioner, introduced Justice & Courage panel members Beverly Upton, Kathy Black, and JaMel Perkins and thanked them for their work.

Ms. Perkins praised the joint meeting. She recommended holding two joint commission hearings a year as the agenda for this December’s meeting was too long. Ms. Upton agreed that there should be a joint commission meeting at least once if not twice every year. Dr. Murase mentioned that COSW and the Police Commissioners also offered positive feedback.

B. Committee on Housing for Survivors of Domestic Violence
The Committee on Housing for Survivors of Domestic Violence met on November 30, 2012, to establish its project priorities for 2013. It was determined that the committee would focus on education and training, and would continue working with the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) to address SFHA’s accountability and expanding housing opportunities for domestic violence survivors. Committee members will be conducting domestic violence housing rights trainings for Bay Area housing authorities. It will also reconvene its training sessions on domestic violence housing rights for housing providers. The recent personnel shake-up at SFHA has hindered the committee’s efforts to advance its work. The committee is now reconnecting with Bevan Dufty, Director of HOPE (Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement), who was instrumental in bringing together SFHA, local housing providers, and domestic violence advocates.

C. JUS.T.I.S. Governance Council
Dr. Murase reported on the November 29, 2012 meeting. She highlighted the Council’s progress in completing the JUS.T.I.S. system.

Panel member Ken Thiesen raised a concern about electronic filings at the courts. He stated that it is important for the courts to also continue to process paper filings since many clients cannot afford representation and do much of their own filings without computer resources. Ms. Black also expressed her concerns about new “convenience fees” attached to electronic filings, since these fees can serve as barriers to clients. She recommended looking into fee waivers for electronically filed forms.

Dr. Murase suggested that electronic filings be placed on the agenda for a proposed meeting with Presiding Judge Cynthia Lee. Commissioner Shorter urged Panel Members to gather the appropriate data on the populations affected by filing system changes in order to substantiate their concerns. She recognized that while electronic filings are the current trend due to environmental concerns, the City must also recognize that in such urgent matters as family violence, it cannot leave people behind. Mr. Thiesen responded that it is the courts, not service providers, which have the data regarding the overall number of paper-based filings, for example at the Court Access Center. He explained that domestic violence cases typically require multiple filings which further increase the costs to the filers.

Ms. Upton added that language access continues to be a major barrier to electronic filings.

The next meeting of the JUS.T.I.S. Governance Council will be held on Thursday, February 28, 2013, from 9:30-11:30 am.

D. Family Violence Council
Ms. Upton, one of the three council co-chairs (“tri-chairs”) with Kathy Baxter and Talitha Guinn, reported on the Family Violence Council’s (FVC) November 28, 2012 meeting. At their quarterly meeting, Co-Chair Guinn presented a new smartphone application (“app”) designed to make elder abuse laws immediately accessible to police officers. The Council also approved the 2011 Comprehensive Report on Family Violence in San Francisco.

Dr. Murase highlighted the important policy reform of new codes to identify child abuse, elder abuse, and stalking. These reforms were made possible through the Council’s close collaboration with the Department of Emergency Management and the Police Department. Dr. Murase and Ms. Upton expressed their gratitude to Lisa Hoffman of the Department of Emergency Management and Karen Roye of Child Support Services for their dedication to these efforts.

E. Batterer Accountability
Dr. Antonio Ramirez reported that the batterer intervention programs are currently undergoing a certification process. He flagged a question as to who is providing the training to program instructors.

Ms. Upton responded that she has been working with the Adult Probation Department to conduct unannounced site visits to the 11 batterers intervention programs. She walked the Panel through the rigorous review of these programs. A report will be forwarded to Adult Probation Chief Wendy Still in March 2013.

Panel members agreed to invite Chief Still to an upcoming panel meeting once the certification process is complete.

F. Current Issues in Domestic Violence
1. Status of federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization
Ms. Black reported that the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been re-introduced in Congress, and that many of the issues have been resolved. One outstanding issue is the jurisdiction for domestic violence cases that occur on tribal lands. VAWA funding will not be impacted by the lack of reauthorization. Ms. Black urged concerned individuals to show their support for VAWA reauthorization by contacting their Congressional representatives.

A. Officer Involved Domestic Violence Policy
Ms. Upton reported that she has been working with SFPD on this issue for the last year. Together, they created a 35-page policy model which has since been reduced to a 2-page SFPD General Order. Now the parties are negotiating whether this General Order could reference a more substantial policy. Ms. Upton expected to have more to report at the next panel meeting.

Mr. Thiesen asked how many police officers have been involved in domestic violence because he has fielded a number of calls from police officers throughout the Bay Area requesting referrals. Ms. Upton stated that this is not clear. Her approach has been to identify this as a gap in department policy. Ms. Upton’s understanding is that any case involving police officers is reported to the Department of Justice and the home agency of the officer is notified. Ms. Black stated that this quick notification process is called “subsequent arrest notification.” Mr. Thiesen pointed out that other counties make far fewer arrests for domestic violence, both for civilian and law enforcement.

Panel members agreed to schedule a meeting on this issue with Police Chief Suhr.

A. Status of Domestic Violence Supplemental Proposal
In December 2012, President of the Board of Supervisors David Chiu introduced legislation to expand city funding for domestic violence prosecution, outreach, civil cases, and tracking. The proposed ordinance would bring an additional $750,000 to enhance staffing by 10 attorneys and 1 victim advocate at the District Attorney’s office, and by 1 domestic violence policy analyst at the Department. The proposal also requests $50,000 for one-time funding for domestic violence outreach and $178,000 in additional funding for community providers. Dr. Murase mentioned that this proposal, which is backed by 8 co-sponsors, goes to the Budget and Finance Committee today at 11 am, and to the full Board of Supervisors on February 12, 2013.

B. One Billion Rising Event
On Tuesday, February 5, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, District Attorney George Gascón, President Chiu, Commission on the Status of Women President Julie Soo, and V-Day Executive Director Susan Celia Swan held a joint press conference to encourage San Franciscans to participate in the One Billion Rising Event on February 14 from 4-6 pm at City Hall. San Francisco will be joining thousands of other cities around the world in this campaign to end violence against women and girls. The “one billion” number represents the estimated number of women that will be beaten or raped in their lifetime.

Dr. Murase added that the event would include Taiko drummers, hip-hop dancers, a flash mob, and a formal pledge program. Elected officials, including Mayor Lee and President Soo, will ask participants to take a pledge to end violence against women and girls. Event planners are anticipating a couple thousand people to participate at the City Hall event. Other events in the city include dancing across the Golden Gate Bridge and in Grace Cathedral.

Dr. Jane Bernard-Powers, Professor Emerita of San Francisco State University, President of Democratic Women in Action (DWIA), and a volunteer with the Department, reported that she will be joining other activists on a panel at the UN Commission on the Status of Women Parallel Session in March 2013. The panel will discuss local models for ending violence against women. Dr. Bernard-Powers plans to highlight the work of the Justice & Courage Oversight Panel and the Family Violence Council.

The meeting adjourned at 10:07 am.

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