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LA County turns attention to domestic violence

Study Hall?  Los Angeles County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl, Mark Ridley Thomas and Mike Antonovich listen to discussion of raising the minimum wage.
Brian Watt/KPCC
L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl wants the county to focus more of its resources on domestic violence.

Los Angeles County officials are trying to bring more attention and resources to domestic violence.

A motion passed unanimously Tuesday by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors creates a set of positions at the Department of Public Health devoted to coordinating the county's response to the needs of domestic violence victims and domestic violence prevention. It also moves the county's domestic violence council to the public health department.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who co-authored the motion along with Supervisor Hilda Solis, said the move is meant to bring an issue that often goes overlooked to the forefront of county planning. 

"There is no part of our county service that is not touched in some way by domestic violence," Kuehl said. "I remember reports from animal welfare of women dropping off animals saying, 'my husband won't let me have this pet anymore,' and noticing some bruises on the woman."

According to Kuehl, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department has received 8,859 domestic violence reports so far this year in the area the agency patrols. There were 10,290 last year.

Women in prison and jails have often been victims of abuse, Kuehl said. Homelessness among women is also linked to domestic violence. 

"We have many women on our streets who have a home, but they're not safe to live there," said Supervisor Janice Hahn. 

Though the added resources and move of the current county council on domestic violence to the public health department was planned some time ago, officials expressed increased urgency following Sunday's mass shooting at a Texas church.

The suspected murderer of 26 people at the church in Sutherland Springs had been convicted of domestic violence in 2012 for abusing his then-wife and stepson.

"Things can just absolutely spiral out of control unless those entities responsible step up," said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. "Domestic violence is often a canary in the coal mine for future domestic violence."