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Joplin could have new domestic violence ordinance - KOAM TV 7

Joplin could have new domestic violence ordinance

Updated:
Joplin's city council tonight may approve a new city ordinance that deals with domestic violence.  Local victims advocacy groups were surprised to learn the city has no such ordinance.

Joplin Police Officer Austin Wolf has had his share of domestic violence and abuse calls.

"Every situation is different, and every situation has its own unique things," says Wolf.

Details of these cases are specific, but Joplin's classification of these crimes are not.

"We've been dealing with domestic assaults for quite some time, and they've just been filed under our assault charge," says Assistant Chief Matt Stewart with the Joplin Police Department.

"It's just a general assault charge," says Allison Malinowski Sunday with Joplin's Lafayette House, a victims advocacy group.

Workers at the Lafayette House say things have to change, and police believe the same.  The two agencies want a new city ordinance just for domestic violence.

"This new ordinance would allow them to start creating a track record," says Malinowski Sunday.

...them being victims.

Workers at the Lafayette House say domestic abuse and violence would be spelled out during a request for protection from the abuser.

"Really, the judge just has to decide is this person credible?  Obviously, having documentation where police thought they (victim) were credible, there was domestic violence, that's just going to make that go much more smoothly," says Malinowski Sunday.

Police do not expect case loads to increase.  But they do expect penalties to be handed out quicker and more efficiently.

"Domestic violence is a very serious crime, and something we take very seriously.  So we just want to make sure that we're on the forefront of this, and we want to make sure we've cleaned up the language a little bit," says Malinowski Sunday.

Above all, a new city ordinance could bring more awareness.

"It's reinforcing, this is not OK.  This is against the law.  There are laws to protect you," says Malinowski Sunday.

Misdemeanor domestic violence cases would still be sent to municipal court, while more serious felony cases would still be sent to county court.  

This proposed new ordinance would include penalties for verbal threats from a family member or a member of a household, where the victim felt they were in serious harm or death.


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