U.S. Senator Chris Coons, co-chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, hosted a 90-minute roundtable discussion on Tuesday on the importance of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which is being considered by the Senate. The Senator led a discussion at the New Castle County Department of Public Safety building about the tools for stopping domestic violence with a dozen representatives of Delaware's state, county and local law enforcement agencies, advocacy, community and non-profit organizations, family court, and the Delaware Attorney General's office. Senator Coons is one of 50 co-sponsors of legislation to reauthorize VAWA, which has come under threat from some Senate Republicans who oppose the measure in its current form.
"The Violence Against Women Act has been extraordinarily effective in preventing and stopping domestic violence, and it can help us do more if Congress is able to reauthorize it," said Senator Coons. "The right to live in peace, free from abuse, fear and violence is universal, yet threats to this basic right can be found across lines of race, class and even gender. If we are to protect this right and truly build a climate of security in our homes and communities, these crimes cannot be tolerated. VAWA offers important tools for that effort, and I'm concerned that partisan obstructionism in Washington might take those tools out of our communities."
Every five years, Congress revisits VAWA to update the law to address evolving needs in the fight against domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The landmark legislation, which has never before been a partisan issue, provides law enforcement agencies, court personnel, and victim-service providers with tools to help prevent domestic violence homicides by supporting training for those on the front lines of efforts to eliminate domestic violence. The bill also promotes accountability to ensure that federal funds are used for their intended purposes, and consolidates programs while focusing initiatives that have been the most successful.
"When I served as New Castle County Executive, I saw how important VAWA is to providing our public safety officers with the tools and training they need when addressing incidents of domestic violence," Senator Coons said. "Nearly 20 years ago, Joe Biden revolutionized the way law enforcement confronts domestic violence. Since then it has made an important difference in the safety of our communities. VAWA needs to be reauthorized."
"We must fight to keep this bill in place. VAWA has touched nearly every community in our entire country," Carol Post, Executive Director of the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said.
VAWA was signed into law by President Clinton in 1994, and was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. The law's current authorization expired in September 2011. Earlier this month, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines, 10-8, to advance the current reauthorization out of committee. It now awaits consideration of the full Senate. Click here to read more about the partisan fight over VAWA: http://huff.to/ypDpSq
Senator Coons spoke about the bill on the Senate floor on February 2. Click here to watch or read it: http://bit.ly/zIYpag
Participants in Tuesday's roundtable included:
Timothy Brandau, Ph.D., Executive Director of CHILD, Inc.
Patricia Dailey Lewis, Esq., Family Division of the Delaware Attorney General's Office
Commissioner Carl Danberg of the Department of Correction and Vice Chair of the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council
Chief Jeffrey Horvath of the Lewes Police Department and Chairman of the Delaware Police Chiefs Council
Chief James Hosfelt of the Dover Police Department
Maria Matos, Executive Director of the Latin American Community Center
Major Nathaniel McQueen, Executive Staff of the Delaware State Police
Deanee Moran, Director of the Sexual Assault Network of Delaware
Carol Post, Executive Director of the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Bridget Poulle, Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council
Leann Summa, Esq., Director of Legal Affairs of Family Court
Lieutenant Teresa Williams of the New Castle County Police Department