- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut legislators are forming a new task force to examine family violence in Connecticut, including the effects it can have on children.

The panel was partially inspired by a three-month period last year when a total of six children were present at three of the state’s 11 domestic violence homicides. Meanwhile, nearly 1,200 children live in domestic violence shelters in the state each year and thousands more are served in community settings, according to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“The impact of that experience is incalculable,” said House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, on Wednesday, referring to those children who were present when their mothers were killed. He said the state does not have a coordinated approach to helping children who witness abuse.

The new panel is charged with examining existing policies and procedures used by various state agencies, law enforcement, attorneys for minor children and the Judicial Branch for minors exposed to family violence. A report, which is supposed to include a new state-wide policy for those entities, is due to the General Assembly in January.

Task force members may review whether judges need more training in family violence matters following the recent death of a 7-month-old Middletown infant who was found dead in the Connecticut River.

Police said the boy’s father tossed him from a bridge before jumping in the water below. A judge last month denied the boy’s mother a permanent restraining order against the father amid a bitter custody dispute.

Karen Jarmoc, president and CEO of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the panel’s co-chairman, said family violence training for judges would be meaningful, especially considering there are about 9,000 restraining order applications annually and 40,000 family violence-related arrests.

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