Renew Domestic Violence Focus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                         Phone: (206) 919-1959
June 11, 2012                                                                            


How Do We Reduce Violent Crime? 

Renew Focus on Domestic Violence

Domestic violence offenders have the highest likelihood of being involved in homicide 

SEATTLE, WA – King County Sheriff candidate John Urquhart today announced his plan to reinstitute the Domestic Violence Unit in the King County Sheriff’s Office in order to help address the region’s unprecedented rise in violent crime.  The unit, comprised of detectives with specialized experience in domestic violence cases, was disbanded in recent years due to slashed budgets in criminal justice.

“As King County Sheriff, one of my priorities will be to focus on offenders suspected of domestic violence,” said Urquhart.  “Domestic violence defendants are the most violent offenders in the criminal justice system.  They have the highest rate of recidivism for future violent crime than any other offender, and they are the most likely to be involved in homicide.”

Ian Stawicki, the man who shot six people in Seattle on May 30th leaving five dead, legally owned multiple firearms.  He was charged in 2008 with four counts of misdemeanor domestic violence assault for attacking his girlfriend, and he was charged again with misdemeanor domestic violence assault in 2010 after attacking his brother.  In both cases the victims recanted and prosecutors dropped the charges.  If Stawicki had been convicted of any one of the domestic violence charges, he would have been legally prohibited from owning firearms.

“Stawicki was legally allowed to possess firearms because prosecutors could not build a case against him without his victims’ cooperation,” said Sgt. Urquhart. “King County needs a specialized unit in the Sheriff’s Office that can properly investigate and build strong cases against domestic violence defendants where the case does not hinge solely on the testimony of the victim. This unit will save lives.”

A property staffed and trained unit will ensure that cases are complete and ready for prosecution, including medical records, photos, statements, and criminal history, making it easier for prosecutors to file cases, especially with reluctant victims.

Domestic violence victims recant for a variety of reasons including criminal witness tampering, witness intimidation, or even the fact that the victim may be financially dependent or share children with the defendant.  The Domestic Violence Unit in the Sheriff’s Office would work with victims to help guide them through the criminal justice process.  It would also provide victims with information about relocating to a safe place or how to seek no-contact orders against their abusers.

“Norm Maleng called domestic violence a ‘crime against the human spirit’,” said Urquhart.  The impact on victims and their children is tremendous, and we need to make sure we have the resources available for successful prosecution.  I intend to make that happen.

John Urquhart has been a commissioned police officer for over 36 years, the last 24 full-time with the King County Sheriff’s Office.  He has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, master police officer, plain clothes vice & narcotics detective, patrol sergeant, and the Sheriff’s spokesman.  John also serves as the President of the S.H.E.R.I.F.F. Fund, a non-profit dedicated to providing cash grants to members of the criminal justice community with a short-term need due to unforeseen life circumstances.  John resides on the Eastside with Shelley, his wife of nearly 37 years.

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