Special Reports

City Council approves domestic violence plan

The Tacoma City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to begin work on a citywide domestic violence policy that council members believe could be end up serving as a model for other cities.

A group led by the city's Human Rights and Human Services Department will start work soon on a strategy for training all city employees about how to recognize and respond to domestic violence.

The group will work with several other city departments, as well as the Pierce County Commission Against Domestic Violence and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Councilwoman Connie Ladenburg praised the council's vote, calling domestic violence a "unique social problem" that requires a unique response.

"I think that what we're doing today is trying to address that uniqueness," Ladenburg said.

"I think the city is now leading the way for other jurisdictions and businesses and agencies to follow," she added. "It's time that we address this hidden problem."

Councilman Rick Talbert also praised his fellow council members, calling domestic violence the "hidden crime."

"It's the crime a lot of us don't talk about," Talbert said. "As recent events have shown, I think it's the responsibility of all of us to recognize the effects of domestic violence."

In May, the City Council instructed the Human Rights and Human Services Department to provide training to city employees on recognizing and responding to domestic violence. Since then, about 400 employees have received the training, said John Briehl, director of the department.

At the end of the training, it became apparent the city needed some kind of written policy addressing the problem, Briehl said.

A similar effort is already under way to come up with a plan for handling domestic violence within the police department. A group known as the Crystal Clear Committee convened shortly after Police Chief David Brame fatally shot his wife, Crystal, and then killed himself April 26.

The citywide policy may end up closely resembling whatever plan that committee develops for the police department, Briehl said.

In other business, the council postponed a vote on a proposal to accept an identification card issued by the Mexican government as valid ID from people seeking city services.

Councilman Rick Talbert requested to delay the vote to give the police department time to look at the proposal.

It will appear on the Oct. 7 council agenda.

If the council approves of the idea, Tacoma will become the fifth city in Washington to accept the cards, known as matricula consular, from Mexican citizens living in the United States.

Mexican consulates throughout the country are leading a campaign to promote the acceptance of the cards, which allow undocumented residents a means of establishing their identity in order to open bank accounts and receive other services.

Jason Hagey: 253-597-8542