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Dallas leaders react to rash of domestic violence incidents

Domestic violence remains a serious problem across the country, and unfortunately, north Texas has seen more than its share of cases recently. A recent rash of domestic violence incidents in the Dallas area has city leaders particularly concerned and searching for new ways to curb the problem.

In one recent case, a Grand Prairie, Texas, woman was found murdered outside her apartment. Police said the father of the victim's 13-month-old child was considered a person of interest in the case. The woman's death is one of four attributed to domestic abuse in North Texas in recent weeks. In another of those cases, two children were found inside the home just after the slaying.

These deaths -- in addition to more than a dozen killings attributed to domestic violence in 2012 -- have prompted members of the Dallas City Council and other city leaders to actively look for new solutions. One of those council members announced a new initiative that could change the way the city handles domestic violence calls. She's calling on the Dallas Police Department to make arrest warrants related to domestic violence a top priority and for other city leaders to actively promote resources available to victims of domestic violence. The Police Department is also considering developing an educational program that includes a family violence component.

But educating families and potential victims is only part of the answer. Those who have been abused by a spouse, partner or family member need concrete legal solutions to protect them from further violence. A family law attorney can help facilitate protective orders, for example, which not only prohibit violence or harassment, but also allow victims to protect their property and child custody rights and require mandatory mental health treatment for offenders.

Protective orders are currently not criminally enforceable, however. In other words, violation of a protective order may not warrant an arrest or jail time unless the accused is jailed for contempt in civil court. If police and city leaders are serious about cracking down on domestic abuse, they will need to put real action behind their words to make north Texas a safer place for families.

Source: CBS DFW, "New Dallas Initiatives Battle Domestic Violence," Stephanie Lucero, Jan. 17, 2013

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