Kansas county resumes domestic abuse enforcement

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 12, 2011 10:14 PM
Kansas county resumes domestic abuse enforcement

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Kan (Reuters) - A county official in the capital city of Kansas, who had refused to prosecute some domestic abuse cases because of budget cuts, resumed enforcing the law on Wednesday after an angry public outcry.

In an example of how financial woes are leading to extreme steps across the country, Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor had stopped filing misdemeanor domestic abuse cases in Topeka on September 8. He cited budget cuts which he said would force staff reductions.

Taylor dumped those cases on the city of Topeka. The city said it did not have the money or staff either, and the city council took the extraordinary step on Tuesday of repealing its ordinance on domestic battery.

That briefly left no one prosecuting some domestic abuse cases in Topeka, prompting outrage from victims' advocates.

"This is an unprecedented step backwards," Joyce Grover, executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, said earlier on Wednesday.

On Wednesday afternoon, Taylor relented and said he would resume taking misdemeanor abuse cases but the budget cuts would slow enforcement.

"I am deeply saddened by the city of Topeka's unfortunate decision to place resources and political grandstanding before its constituents' safety," Taylor said in a statement. "I am also deeply encouraged by the strong, angry response of the people of Topeka and Shawnee County."

Since early September, Taylor has stopped prosecuting 30 pending domestic abuse cases including some where charges had been filed, city spokesman David Bevens said. Another 23 people jailed for domestic battery were released without being charged, he said.

Interim City Manager Dan Stanley said he was pleased the district attorney would resume prosecuting cases, and he said the city would advocate for Taylor's office to get more funding.

(Editing by Greg McCune)