Special Reports

Domestic abuse policy-makers head to Louisiana

Two Tacoma City Council members will travel to New Orleans this week for a national conference on domestic violence.

The four-day conference, which is held annually by the National College of District Attorneys, usually is attended by lawyers, police investigators, social workers and others. Council members Connie Ladenburg and Rick Talbert said they will attend because they expect soon to develop new city policies regarding domestic abuse.

"The more knowledge we have, the better able I will be to make decisions about these things," Ladenburg said.

The council is paying the costs for the conference, including tuition of about $500 per person, she said.

The council chose Ladenburg and Talbert to research domestic violence after Tacoma Police Chief David Brame fatally shot his wife, Crystal, and himself. In divorce papers Crystal Brame had accused her husband of years of threats and bullying.

Local law enforcement and social agencies often send representatives to the conference. This year, Tacoma police spokesman Jim Mattheis will attend the conference, as well as four other members of the department's domestic violence team. Their tuition and costs are funded by a state grant made possible by the federal Violence Against Women Act, a department spokesman said.

In addition, the Pierce County Sheriff's department will send two people and the Pierce County Commission Against Domestic Violence three. One city attorney and two prosecutors will also attend, said Eileen O'Brien, the county's justice services member. O'Brien said she will lecture about grant writing at the conference.

Representatives from other local agencies may attend, but there's no one person coordinating the county's delegation, O'Brien said. She said about 1,100 people from across the country will attend, including 70 or 80 from Washington State.

This is the 13th annual National Conference on Domestic Violence held by the National College of District Attorneys.

Courses include "Victim Safety Issues," "Determining the Primary Aggressor: Use of Medical Evidence," "Prosecuting Domestic Violence Cases Without the Victim's Participation," "Domestic Violence on Tribal Lands," "Recanting Victims," "Interviewing the Batterers," "Responding to Children at the Crime Scene," "Evaluating Battered Women Charged with Crimes," "Typologies of the Strangler," "Internal Affairs: Police Who Are Battered," "Housing Concerns" and "Controversies in Batterer Intervention Programs."

Speakers at the conference include Jan Russell and Bridget Healy Ryan, two experts in officer-involved domestic violence from Chicago. Russell is a victim's advocate for the Chicago Police Department, and Healy Ryan is a prosecutor.

Lisa Kremer: 253-597-8658