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Bayview domestic violence program helped more than 100 people get services in its first year

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San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon announces a grant to continue a domestic violence pilot program at the Bayview Police Station on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

A domestic violence pilot program in the Bayview that helped secure emergency shelter for 54 survivor victims in the first year has secured funding for another three years.

The Bayview was selected for the pilot since the highest number of 911 domestic violence calls come from that neighborhood.

The first 12 months of the program helped connect 153 victim survivors of domestic violence to services and placed more than fifty in emergency shelter. It also discovered gaps in services for the Chinese community.

While the $750,000 grant from the US Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women to continue the pilot was announced last year, it was approved Thursday by the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee, where details about the pilot were presented.

Between June 2017 and June 2018, 601 residents were screened by the Bayview Domestic Violence High Risk Program and 330 were determined to be at high-risk of death or serious injury, based on an initial assessment of their cases. Of these, 153 accessed services provided by La Casa de las Madres, a domestic violence prevention nonprofit.

Fifty-four were moved into emergency shelter. “What that tells us is that as a result of this pilot 54 victim survivors escaped potentially lethal situations because of this intervention,” said Emily Murase, director of the Department on the Status of Women, which applied for the grant funding.

In San Francisco between 2014 and 2017 there were a total of 12 domestic violence homicides, four of which occurred in 2017. Between fiscal years 2015 and 2017 there were an average of 18,000 crisis calls to community providers per year, or 50 calls per day, citywide.

“Anyone of these crisis calls could have led to a domestic violence homicide,” Murase said.

A lethality assessment program was implemented in the Bayview Police Station 18 months ago, which police use to determine a victims risk for death or serious injury, by asking a series of questions during every domestic violence call.

“In half of domestic violence homicides nationwide victims had called the police prior to the murder but had not accessed community-based anti-domestic violence services,” Murase said. “Engaging with anti-domestic violence services has been shown to reduce homicides or serious injury by 60 percent.”

For those who are at high risk for death or serious injury, the officer “connects a victim survivor directly to an expert counselor by mobile phone. Before this intervention it was just a card.”

The grant pays for domestic violence services with APA Family Support Services and La Casa de Las Madres, prosecutor and victim advocate positions with the District Attorney’s Office and Police Officers.

The grant is also helping to fund the launch of an smartphone application “all law enforcement can access from the field to assist in identifying victims who are at high risk of lethality in relationships.”

And it will expand outreach to the Asian Pacific Islander residents. “The API community comprises 37 percent of the Bayview District, yet only about 8 percent of the domestic violence cases reported to police in the District. However, 39 percent of individuals served by anti-domestic violence organizations funded by DOSW in FY 16-17 were API, when ethnicity of client was known,” the grant application said.

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