KOCO: Oklahoma officials take action against domestic violence at federal level

By: Alyse Jones
Published: August 18, 2023

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The U.S. attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma said he is taking action against suspects in domestic violence cases on a federal level by focusing on firearm offenses.

U.S. Attorney Bob Troester said violent offenders are found in every corner of society. But a new initiative is hoping to lower the number of domestic violence cases.

“Domestic violence is at an epidemic level and is happening everywhere,” said Troester. “It can be urban communities and rural communities. It can be found in rich neighborhoods and found in poor neighborhoods. It’s found in educated individuals and uneducated. It’s found with the rich and the poor, and it’s found with all races.”

The Violence Policy Center showed Oklahoma ranks as the number two state when it comes to cases of domestic violence, specifically with women. Troester said they are addressing the issue through an initiative called Operation 922.

“We use the power of federal prosecution to go after those domestic abusers who’ve now interjected a firearm into the abuse equation,” said Troester.

Data showed many abusers are federally prohibited from having a firearm, so when they use one or have one, it’s a way to break the cycle of abuse by convicting them of a crime, sending them to prison and, ultimately, separating them from the victim.

“We’ve now charged nearly 300 people with gun-related offenses. Some of them were felons who shouldn’t have been in possession of a firearm. Some of them had victim protection orders against them, which, under federal law, they’re prohibited from having a firearm. Some had misdemeanor convictions for domestic violence, which makes them a prohibited person,” said Troester.

In cases that turn deadly, Troester said firearms are used seven times more often than other forms of violence.

“We got to do more than just give lip service to this issue,” said Troester. “You can’t have safe neighborhoods without first having safe homes. That’s where it must start.”