Topeka City Council Puts Domestic Battery Back In City Code

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Topeka City Council Members approved a 2013 Uniform Public Offense Code that continues to allow loaded weapons in vehicles and puts domestic battery back in the city code, but the vote renewed debate on the budget issues that led a prior council to take it out in the first place.

Topeka city leaders agreed on the importance of holding domestic abusers accountable. City Attorney Chad Sublet said, "Domestic violence prosecution is homicide prevention."

However, financial concerns re-ignited debate over which court should prosecute them. In 2011 the city of Topeka removed the crime of domestic battery from its city code when Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor cited budget cuts in a decision for his office to no longer prosecute the cases.

The city council, concerned municipal court was not equipped to handle them, removed it from the city's offense code in a move to force the D.A. to take them back.

Now, council members wanted to send a message they take the crime seriously by putting it back in, but some, including Councilwoman Sylvia Ortiz, who says she herself was a victim of domestic abuse, are concerned it would invite the D.A. to again shift the cases back to the city.

"It's a tough situation, and it just concerns me that we would handle that. We don't have the money, the manpower or the connections that the county does," said Ortiz.

Ortiz and Councilman John Campos were the lone votes against reinstating domestic battery, but it's not effective until January 2015 so the city can consider it in next year's budget.

You can't do it off the cuff. You have to have all of your resources in place and we want to make sure we do that before we take the next step," said Sublet.

Topeka Police Chief Ron Miller wanted the code to also ban carrying loaded weapons in vehicles within city limits, but the council declined to make that change.

Council members also approved a new Neighborhood Conservation District in Topeka's Westboro Neighborhood, which sets designs standards for homes in the area.