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Pinellas sheriff touts domestic violence task force’s efforts

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Published:   |   Updated: November 15, 2013 at 05:19 PM

CLEARWATER — More than 5,500 arrests were made statewide as part of a monthlong operation targeting men who assault their women, or vice versa, parents who don’t pay child support for their children and adults who treat children in their care badly.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced the results of the effort today. He serves as chairman of the Florida sheriffs’ task force overseeing the effort, Operation Safe Families. Of the 67 sheriffs in the state, 33 took part, including Hillsborough County. Pasco County did not.

Law enforcement officers sifted through outstanding warrants looking for suspects wanted for crimes touching on domestic violence, Gualtieri said. Then a special effort was made to track them down and arrest them.

In addition, deputies ramped up efforts to act quickly once they received reports of domestic violence, Gualtieri said. Deputies also dusted off writs of bodily attachment for failure to pay child support and tracked down those so-called “dead-beat dads.”

As part of the operation, 387 people were arrested on domestic violence warrants; more than 2,500 were arrested in more recent domestic violence cases; 772 were picked up for failing to pay child support, and 89 children were removed from homes authorities considered dangerous, Gualtieri said.

There were more than 333,000 crimes related to domestic violence in the state of Florida from 2010 to 2012, with 604 deaths caused by domestic violence, the sheriff said.

In 2012 alone, there were 108,000 offenses, with 202 people dying, constituting more than 20 percent of all homicide victims, the sheriff said.

Part of the point of Operation Safe Families was to raise awareness of domestic violence, which tends to wax and wane, the sheriff said. That is why the project, which ran from Oct. 13 through Nov. 9, overlapped with October, which is domestic violence month.

Advocates for victims of domestic violence praised the task force’s efforts, including Linda Osmundson, the executive director for Community Action Stops Abuse, or CASA. Such efforts show victims of domestic violence that there are agents in society more powerful than their abusers, she said.

sthompson@tampatrib.com

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