Lawmakers propose more protections for domestic violence victims

Local News

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.

If you or someone you know is in a dangerous, domestic situation there is free and confidential help. Support for victims and survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence is available 24/7: 1-800-897-LINK (5465) or at udvc.org. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, or in an emergency, please call 9-1-1 immediately.

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For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...