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Bill restores rules on domestic violence cases

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POSTED July 5, 2013 10:07 p.m.

 

SACRAMENTO . (AP) — The state Senate has approved legislation that would reinstate mandates that police departments keep records of restraining orders and adopt standards for responding to domestic violence calls.

The bill, AB81, passed Wednesday reverses language in a previously approved budget bill that would have made those practices optional for law enforcement agencies. Under that scenario, the state would not have been required to pick up the cost of compliance, as it must when it issues a mandate.

The legislation now heads to the Assembly.

Advocates for crime victims and several district attorneys said the requirements are needed to help protect victims' rights.

In a letter urging Gov. Jerry Brown to veto the previous bill, Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully wrote that making the policies optional would "send California back to the Dark Ages in regards to definitions, standards and arrest practices for domestic violence."

State law requires local agencies to abide by the domestic violence information policies in the pending legislation, but the requirement has been suspended for two decades. State officials say police and sheriff's departments have continued to follow those requirements.

Under AB81, the domestic violence provisions would be added back as a state mandate. But other provisions in this year's budget bills mean they would remain temporarily suspended, according to legislative staff.

The Senate approved the legislation on a 37-0 vote, without debate.

Camille Hayes, spokeswoman for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, said the organization was pleased the Senate chose to keep the domestic violence requirement in state law.

Eliminating the mandate instead of suspending it temporarily would have sent a negative signal to police regarding how they should respond to such cases, she said.

"It might not have changed what was happening on the ground immediately, but it could have had long-term consequences," Hayes said.

 

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