Coordinated Community Responses to Domestic Violence in Six Communities: Beyond the Justice System. Outcomes, Issues, and Future Directions


The impact of coordination on victims, offenders, and services has grown over the last decade. The specialized domestic violence units would not have been created without community pressure from the outside, including from victim advocates and service providers. There is evidence to suggest that the specialized units have decreased the number of domestic violence homicides in San Diego. The number fell from 22 in 1991 (prior to complete implementation of both specialized units in the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego City Attorney's Office), to 9 in 1992; it has remained near 10 per year since that time. Over this same period, the number of domestic violence cases reported by the San Diego Police Department increased significantly from under 7,500 to over 15,000. The specialized units have also had a significant impact on the number of cases issued and the number of cases convicted by the City Attorney's Office.

Service providers and advocates all report that there are more services now than there were a decade ago, and many report the quality of the services has improved since the DV Council began. The fact that providers know what other agencies are doing and maintain regular contact with other agencies keeps providers honest and quality of services high, in the opinion of many we interviewed.

There is still a need for more services, especially alcohol treatment, mental health services, services for children, and services for gay men and lesbians. Funding constraints contribute to the lack of services. The largest number of providers report that services for children who witness domestic violence and services for gay men and lesbian offenders and victims are the most pressing needs of the community.

At the time of this study, the DV Council was planning to meet for an intensive half-day meeting to discuss future directions. Many people feel that they need to set new priorities and work toward new goals. The Council has been very successful in working to change the community's response to domestic violence. However, many feel that they have been riding on their successes too long and they need to create new successes.

Additionally, one of the major players in the domestic violence community is currently running unopposed for City Attorney. Because of his involvement in the DV Council and establishing the vertical prosecution unit in the City Attorney's office, he has developed several plans for his tenure as City Attorney. These plans include the developing an around the clock domestic violence arrest team of two police officers to follow-up on all bench warrants issued in misdemeanor probation for being out of compliance with their treatment program; a stalking policy; strengthening the education programs; and enhancing on-going training efforts.