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Liz Martin, Deseret Morning News
A visitor at West Valley City Hall passes by 40 life-size silhouettes representing victims of domestic violence Monday. They are on display through Thursday.

WEST VALLEY CITY — Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller made her ideas clear from the start at a half-day conference in a room filled with police, prosecutors, probation officers, judges, attorneys, social workers and others who deal with domestic violence on a regular basis.

"This is going to be nuts-and-bolts," Miller said at the program's beginning. "We're going to start thinking about how to create a felony domestic violence court program."

Miller, along with Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and Salt Lake County Council member Jeff Allen, sponsored a gathering at the Cultural Celebration Center on Monday. Among its chief aims was examining ways to create a felony domestic violence court and looking at four possible models.

Miller said she hoped all those involved in dealing with domestic violence cases would share ideas about how to overcome any obstacles for creating such a court and also discuss what impact this might have on their respective agencies.

In addition, Miller said she wants to find ways to get those accused of domestic violence into court faster and also to vastly improve the communication among people and agencies handling various aspects of domestic violence cases. That way, quick action can be taken if the person violates the terms of probation.

Too often, she said, prosecutors might get a conviction, but if the individual doesn't comply with a judge's order to get counseling or ends up consuming drugs or alcohol, there is no network in place for those who first learn of the violation to get information out to everyone else affected by the case — and promptly whisk the offender back before a judge.

Making sure an offender follows through on the "back end" of a case by complying with probation can make a huge difference, she said.

"Getting the conviction doesn't end it," Miller said. "What we're dealing with is not a criminal problem but a social problem."

Corroon pledged to fully support efforts to defeat the "scourge" of domestic violence. "It's not something we should tolerate, and we should not sit back and think we cannot do anything about it," Corroon said. "We can, we should and we will."

Allen said the County Council will spend what it takes to ensure that those combating domestic violence will have the tools they need to succeed.

"Money is not the object," he said. "Making people safe and trying to fix those people who get damaged is the object."

Allen said this is a good time to implement changes because all the elements are in place: a district attorney, mayor, council and sheriff who are all in agreement that new and more comprehensive approaches are needed.


E-mail: lindat@desnews.com