San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon speaks at a news conference alongside officials to announce plans for a new initiative and associated funding to improve response to high-risk domestic violence cases at the Bayview District Police Station on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

SF gets $750K grant for program to prevent domestic violence homicides in Bayview

A program to prevent domestic violence homicides in the Bayview will continue under a newly awarded three-year $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, San Francisco city leaders announced Monday.

Under the pilot program, Bayview Station police officers responding to domestic violence calls have asked survivors a series of 11 questions since last June to determine whether they are at risk of death or serious injury.

Officers are then able to offer at-risk survivors services such as emergency shelter through a nonprofit called La Casa de las Madres.

“The program is effective because police are responding to some of the homes that have never accessed community advocates before,” said Emily Murase, director of the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women. “We know that connecting survivors to advocates can save lives.”

Murase announced the grant at Bayview Station alongside District Attorney George Gascon, Bayview Station Capt. Steven Ford and La Casa de las Madres Director Kathy Black, among other leaders.

Bayview Station was chosen for the pilot program because it has more domestic violence calls than other police districts, though Murase said Asian American families are known to underreport domestic violence.

Among the questions Bayview Station officers ask are: Has your partner ever used a weapon against you or threatened you with a weapon? Does your former partner have a gun or can they get one easily? Is your partner violently or constantly jealous, or do they control most of your daily activities?

Ford said within the first year of the program, 50 percent of the victims in Bayview domestic violence calls were screened as at high risk for death or serious injury, while 84 percent accessed services from domestic violence advocates.

“The ultimate goal is to implement this program department and citywide,” Ford said.

Gascon said the program is a response to the “unacceptable” number of domestic violence homicides reported in San Francisco. Between 2014 and 2017, Gascon said there were 11 domestic violence homicides in The City.

That wave came after San Francisco experienced no reported domestic violence homicides between 2010 and 2014, Murase said previously.

“We know we can stop homicides if we get there early and if we intervene early,” Gascon said.

So far in 2018, there have been two domestic violence-related homicides.

In January, 65-year-old Nellie Hue was shot and killed in an apparent murder suicide by her estranged husband in the Sunset.

Months later in June, 34-year-old Vanessa Palma was shot to death in the Excelsior. Her husband, the suspect, later took his own life.

The $750,000 grant includes $356,292 in funding for the District Attorney’s Office, $152,443 for the Department on the Status of Women, $96,000 for La Casa de las Madres, $27,000 for the San Francisco Police Department and $65,000 for the nonprofit APA Family Services.

The grant will mostly cover the costs of staff time at the various agencies involved.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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