Hwang applauds CT Senate passage of bill to protect domestic violence victims

State Senator Tony Hwang

Senator Tony Hwang applauded the State Senate’s May 1 passage of Senate Bill 466 — An Act Concerning Dual Arrests and the Training Required of Law Enforcement Personnel with Respect to Domestic Violence.

The bill would add a dominant aggressor provision to the law in an effort to reduce Connecticut’s intimate partner violence dual arrest rate, which currently stands at more than twice the national average.

Under the bill, a dominant aggressor is the person who poses the most serious ongoing threat in a situation involving a suspected family violence crime.

The bill calls for changing Connecticut’s family violence arrest law to clarify that when receiving complaints from two or more opposing parties, law enforcement must determine which part is the dominant aggressor — similar laws exists in 27 other states.

Debra Greenwood, CEO/ President of Bridgeport-based Center for Family Justice​, said, “As a Victim Advocacy and Family Justice Center, we understand how critical SB 466 is to clients in our state that are victims of domestic violence. For someone to call for help and seek assistance can be life changing. For a victim not to call for 911 support because they fear arrest can put themselves and their children in an extremely dangerous position. On behalf of our clients at The Center for Family Justice and those in Eastern Fairfield County, we applaud Senator Tony Hwang’s leadership and commitment to pass this lifesaving bill.”

Sen. Hwang said, “I voted in favor of this measure and co-sponsored it because it will better protect domestic violence victims in our state. As the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence has noted, imagine what it would be like to finally summon up the courage to reach out for help or to call the police during an incident when you feel your life is in danger, only to end up being arrested yourself. What are the chances this victim will ever reach out for help again? Under this legislation, police would instead be called upon to practice more discretion whenever two people accuse each other of domestic violence. This change aims to prevent abusers from exploiting relationships when they know a partner is reluctant or unwilling to call police. We want to create a system which makes victims feel safe.”

Angela C. Schlingheyde, director of Civil Legal & Court Advocacy Services for the Center for Family Justice, added, “Connecticut has long been a leader in advancing policy and practice that protects victims of domestic violence and holds offenders accountable. However, for more than 30 years, Connecticut has struggled with one of the country’s highest dual arrest rates. In Connecticut, approximately 20% of the time, both the victim and the abuser are arrested at the scene of an intimate partner violence incident. This is more than twice the national average of 7%. This practice is detrimental to victims, their families, and Connecticut’s criminal justice system. We know that Connecticut can do better, and Senate Bill 466 will help us! We thank Sen. Hwang for his support and look forward to this bill becoming law.”

The bill also has the support of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the state Division of Criminal Justice.

Sen. Hwang represents Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport. He can be reached at [email protected] and at 800-842-1421.

On the web: SenatorHwang.com and www.centerforfamilyjustice.org.

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