L.A. Domestic Violence Services Are Underfunded, “Disjointed and Inconsistent”

Friday, October 02, 2015

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Huffington Post acknowledged it by detailing “31 of the Most Powerful Domestic Violence Moments in the Last Year.

Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin opted for an audit (pdf) of the city’s domestic violence services. He found them “disjointed and inconsistent,” not to mention underfunded. New York City spends 12 times as much as Los Angeles per capita on domestic violence, according to the audit. That includes shelters, education and intervention.

In real dollars, L.A. spent $3.2 million in 2013-14 and New York spent $107.2 million. Chicago spent $3.4 million and San Francisco $4.1 million.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has a unit dedicated to domestic violence, staffed with officers trained to handle it. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) does not.

Instead, the department contracts with community-based organizations for trained advocates to accompany them on domestic violence calls. These Domestic Abuse Response Teams (DART) are not plentiful. They are underfunded and rely on volunteers.

LAPD responds to 131 domestic violence calls a day and DART participates in 1 out of every 30. As of Spring 2015, DART was available in just 10 of 21 police stations. Not surprisingly, “the type and level of DV [domestic violence] intervention services received depended on where the victim lived.”

Among those services is access to a Family Justice Center (FJC). There are 80 of these one-stop shopping legal and social service resources for domestic violence victims in the country, but just one in Los Angeles, in the northern suburb of Van Nuys.

The controller suggested the city have more of them, and Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed the city open three.

Regardless of what direction the city takes in dealing with domestic violence, the controller had one suggestion repeated often throughout the audit: LAPD should start keeping accurate records of domestic violence and all the other participating entities should standardize their data collection.

“LAPD was miscategorizing DV-related assaults by an average of 27% from 2009 thru  2014,” the audit says.

The audit’s overarching recommendation is that the city develop an administrative infrastructure without which they can’t begin to implement a delivery system for domestic violence services. So, all the city and stakeholders need to do is create a governing body, decide on the services they want to render and pay for them.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Audit: Los Angeles’ Domestic Violence Services Are “Inconsistent” (by Dakota Smith, Los Angeles Daily News)

L.A.'s Response to Domestic Violence Is Underfunded and Disjointed, Audit Finds (by Alice Walton, Los Angeles Times)

Strengthening the City's Fight Against Domestic Violence (Los Angeles City Controller ) (pdf)

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