BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – October is nationally recognized as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month”. Throughout North Alabama, many victim service providers and community agencies serve as daily advocates, protectors, and healers for victims of domestic violence. Their continued commitment to serving victims of domestic violence is shared by federal and local law enforcement agencies across North Alabama, who prioritize domestic violence response year-round.
In October 2020, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama launched Operation Safe Families to bring federal law enforcement alongside local victim service providers, law enforcement order and local prosecutors to better respond to the needs of victims of domestic violence and the threats presented to the community by perpetrators of domestic violence. Not only do perpetrators of domestic violence often terrorize former intimate partners, but national and local crime data confirms that perpetrators of domestic violence pose extreme risks to law enforcement and are often responsible for a number significant number of violent crimes in Alabama communities.
In Jefferson County, offenders with histories of domestic violence are responsible for the vast majority of homicides committed each year, while nationally, perpetrators of domestic violence pose the greatest deadly threat to the safety of law enforcement. The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office identified that more than 70 percent of Jefferson County homicide perpetrators for 2021 and 2022 had previously committed acts of domestic violence. Although, according to the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Fund’s 2022 biannual report on law enforcement officer deaths, more law enforcement officers have been killed by firearms in response to domestic disturbance issues than in any other service capacity in the United States.
“People who commit violence in their homes are often the same people who commit violent crimes in our community,” said U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona. “Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a time for our community to recognize the victim service providers and law enforcement agencies who serve and protect victims of domestic violence every day. It is also an opportunity to refocus local efforts on how to best protect victims of violence and best prevent the continued escalation of harm that often accompanies domestic violence.
The United States Attorney’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are leveraging federal law enforcement resources to prioritize the prosecution of people who illegally possess firearms. fire as a result of prohibited crimes of domestic violence. Additionally, the United States Attorney’s Office, ATF, and Alabama Bureau of Prosecutions provide training and guidance to local law enforcement, prosecutors, and community service providers on how best to to remove weapons from the hands of domestic abusers. In 2022, Operation Safe Families law enforcement partners conducted more than 30 trainings to more than 1,000 law enforcement and community partners in Alabama’s Northern District counties.
“Domestic violence is a complex crime that affects everyone involved and ultimately affects the community,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Mickey French. “It is the duty of the ATF to uphold the law and prosecute individuals who illegally possess firearms and cause undue harm to others. The ATF along with our state, local, and federal partners will continue to serve the public by using our combined resources to bring justice to those who willfully and unlawfully harm the citizens of our communities.
Over the past year, the Department of Justice has committed nearly $1 million in funding for new projects aimed at addressing domestic violence in the Northern District of Alabama. The Office of Violence Against Women awarded $500,000 to One Place Metro Family Justice Center to facilitate and implement the Firearms and Domestic Violence Technical Assistance Project (FTAP) in Jefferson County , and the Bureau of Justice Assistance assigned the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office to Birmingham. approximately $340,000 to improve the response of local law enforcement and Jefferson County prosecutors. Additionally, the United States Attorney’s Office has dedicated grant resources from the Safe Neighborhoods Project to improve protection for victims of domestic violence in the district.
New efforts are also being made locally to address the trauma suffered by children after witnessing or experiencing domestic violence. One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center has partnered with Camp Hope America to serve young victims of trauma in Jefferson County. The U.S. Attorney’s Office participates in and supports Camp Hope and its year-round Pathways program, which aims to break the generational cycle of family violence by providing healing and hope to children who have witnessed and been affected by family violence. . For more information about Camp Hope America, please contact Kelly Klehm at [email protected]
In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the United States Attorney’s Office will join law enforcement and community agency partners in a variety of violence education and service events domestic in northern Alabama. Among these events, on October 11, the Jefferson County Firearms Technical Assistance Project held its first meeting with law enforcement and community partners, as well as representatives from the Bureau of Violence in against Women and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Also, October 13e the Birmingham Bar Association hosted a CLE and a tour of the One Place Metro Alabama Family Justice Center.
If you would like more information about Operation Safe Families, visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndal/operation-safe-families-protecting-families-gun-violence or to receive training or resources related to domestic violence, please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 205.244.2015.