Almost every day we hear a news story about domestic violence. It is truly an epidemic, both nationally and locally. There could be no more tragic example than the situation that took place Nov. 30 in East Tacoma.
Tacoma police Officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez was killed responding to a domestic dispute call. His death is an all-too-familiar reminder of the horrors caused by domestic violence.
The murder of Officer Gutierrez, while devastating, is certainly not an unfamiliar story. Our community has been here more than once before. In 2009, Deputy Kent Mundell was gunned down while responding to a domestic violence call in rural Pierce County.
Before that, tragedy struck in 2003 when, in the parking lot of a grocery store in Gig Harbor, then Tacoma Chief of Police David Brame killed his estranged wife, Crystal Judson, and then turned the gun on himself. This horrific event happened in front of their two young children.
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Many say from tragedy, good things can come, and from the Brame tragedy came a reinforced focus on domestic violence in our community and the formation of the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center.
The center’s mission is to provide victims and survivors of domestic violence with the opportunity to create safer, more stable lives for themselves and their children by providing in-depth, professionally supported, comprehensive services. This work is carried out through multidisciplinary collaboration and compassionate advocacy. It is driven by the highest standards of excellence.
Since opening its doors in 2005, the center has provided services and support to many thousands of people seeking help in dealing with domestic violence. It is unique in that service providers from a wide variety of nonprofit and government agencies are co-located there.
The bottom line for clients: They can walk through one door, tell their stories one time, and get the help, care and support they need.
The city of Tacoma and Pierce County have joint funding responsibility for the center, with additional funds coming through grants and donations. The Pierce County Council recently passed the 2017 budget, which includes an additional $110,000 for the center on top of the $400,000 provided by the county in 2016. (Tacoma also contributes $400,000).
I was proud to lead the effort to obtain this funding, as it provides much needed stability for direct service positions at the center. Taking this financial action was quite simply the right thing to do. It is the responsibility of both Pierce County and the city of Tacoma to continue to stand by the commitments we made almost 12 years ago when the center was created.
I am committed to the ideal that all citizens deserve to live in a healthy, safe community. This does not happen without leadership and commitment from local decision makers. Domestic violence services are vital to our efforts to ensure the health and safety of all citizens, including those who have dedicated their lives to protecting the rest of us.
As we reflect on the tragic and senseless loss of Officer Gutierrez and the murder of Crystal Judson, it is imperative that we never let down our guard. We must continue to place a strong emphasis on ensuring help is available for victims and survivors of domestic violence.
The health and vitality of our community depend on it.
Rick Talbert represents District 5 on the Pierce County Council, which encompasses Tacoma’s East Side and South End, as well as the unincorporated Midland-Parkland-Spanaway area.