During a luncheon today spreading awareness of victims’ rights, State Rep. Brooks Landgraf pledged to re-file a bill that could help prevent domestic violence and protect victims.
Landgraf told the crowd the story of how he met former Odessa police officer Jon Nielsen, who told Landgraf how his daughter, 32-year-old Monica Deming, had been murdered in an act of domestic violence in 2015.
Deming was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, despite him having two separate protective orders for domestic violence issued against him, which he was able to hide from Odessa police due to them being from other jurisdictions, and no database available to show Nielson’s history of protective orders due to domestic violence.
With Nielson’s assistance, Landgraf was able to file a bill with Texas Congress called “Monica’s Law,” which would create an online database available to the public and law enforcement listing protective orders issued by Texas courts as a result of domestic violence. While the bill was able to be passed by the Texas House of Representatives in 2017, it was not able to be passed by the Texas Senate before the legislation period ended.
“I stand before you here today saying that that fight is not over,” Landgraf told those in attendance. “We owe it to Monica, we owe it to Monica’s family, and the thousands of other victims and their families who are in the same or similar situation.”
With that, Landgraf announced he would be re-filing “Monica’s law” during the 2019 legislative session.
Without that bill creating the online database, those who have domestic violence orders filed against them may be able to hide those orders from separate jurisdictions. Landgraf said he has talked with numerous women, including a girl he went to high school with, who told him that had something like this been on the books, it may have prevented them from becoming victims of domestic violence themselves.
“When the legislature convenes next year, this is when we will finish the fight, and it’s going to take everyone to do that,” he said. “If we all work together, we can make Monica’s Law Texas law once and for all.”
Landgraf said he found it appropriate to make this announcement Wednesday at the luncheon, which was hosted by the Ector County Victims Coalition to spread awareness on victims’ rights and acknowledge members of the community who help to uphold those rights.
Odessa Police Chief Mike Gerke also spoke at the event on how the very first responsibility of the Odessa Police Department is to do no harm, and said that really depends on how they treat victims of crime.
“When we go to a crime, it should not be about the officers, it should be about the victim,” Gerke said. “Everything should be about the people we serve. That’s our sworn duty.”
Gerke said that some of the ways they help to serve victims is by automatically filing 30-day protective orders for every victim of domestic violence, and conducting periodic checks on residents and victims with protective orders to ensure compliance, which he said has lead to several arrests for protective order violations.
“You need to visit with those victims to make sure they’re okay and let them know there are options for them,” Gerke said. “There is hope. Hope is a powerful thing.”