SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – A bill is being put forward to allow victims of dating violence to acquire a protective order against their perpetrators.
Experts say holes in the law didn’t do enough to protect those seeking help. Sen. Todd Weiler (R-Woods Cross) and Rep. Angela Romero (D-Salt Lake City) are putting forward S.B. 27 during the upcoming session.
It would expand the ability of people to acquire a protective order form the courts. The problem with the law was highlighted back in June of 2017 after 39-year-old Memorez Rackley, and her child were shot and killed. Police at the time noted that if she had tried to gain a protective order she couldn’t have because she never lived with the perpetrator.
Sen. Weiler said before he took this issue on he didn’t realize how bad the problem of domestic violence was in the state.
“We had so many people dying from domestic violence incidents, and it became apparent to me that we had some gaps in our law,” said Sen. Weiler.
Advocates for victims of domestic violence also helped shape the new bill. Jenn Oxborrow of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition said this was an important step forward.
“It will allow law enforcement and the courts to do even more especially with regards to dating violence,” said Oxborrow. “Which is something that’s been lacking.”
Under the current law a victim must have lived together or have children with their perpetrator for them to be granted the order. The proposal would switch that to anyone who had a sexual relationship with someone would be eligible.
As a compromise the new law would also allow those protective orders to expire over time. Sen. Weiler notes that some people have still had them on years later, and can be ineligible to possess a firearm, or buy one.
Even as the bill moves forward advocates remind everyone there is help for those seeking help from an abuser.
“You can be screened for intimate partner violence pretty quickly by over 60 law enforcement agencies across the state,” said Oxborrow. “That’s a really important way to get into care and get to the top of the list.”
Sen. Weiler and Rep. Romero are confident the bill will be brought up early in the session and should pass.