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Lawton Senator Pushing for Faster Protective Order Hearings

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LAWTON Okla_ Senator Don Barrington of Lawton is working for shorter wait times for protective order hearings.

For the second year in a row, Barrington is trying to get a bill passed that would reduce the waiting time to get a hearing for a protective order. Last year, the bill sailed through the senate, but it was so far down the house agenda, it wasn't even heard. So, he's trying again. Barrington said with the increasing violence in our communities, this bill is more important than ever.

Senator Barrington said back in the early 2000's, once a protective order had been filed, a court hearing had to have been scheduled within seven days. Then, the time frame jumped to 20 days. He's pushing for a 14-day time period for a hearing to be scheduled. He feels it's a fair compromise. He thinks the bill will pass this time around, as long as there's time for it to be heard.

Barrington is pushing hard for this bill for women like Diane Dye. You may remember, Dye was gunned down by her ex-husband just nine days before her protective order hearing was scheduled.

"I knew this young lady from the time she was a toddler," Senator Barrington said. "I've known the family for a number of years, and it was kind of personal for me."

Barrington said he was disappointed when the bill wasn't heard last year, but this time he's fighting again, along with Diane Dye's mother Barbara Burk. She said this is the first step of many to getting protective orders enforced the way they should be.

"If we get this passed, it will shorten that time for them to go before a judge to make it a permanent order," Burk said. "It will be one battle won out of the war. The war is still going on."

Burk said she'll get no closure if this bill passes, but she will feel like progress is finally being made. She's still convinced that a protective order is nothing more than a piece of paper, and as a judge told her, paper can't stop bullets.

"They know that's just a piece of paper that's been handed to them," Burk said of the recipients of the orders. "There's really no punishment for violating them."

Senator Barrington is hoping that the recent anti-violence campaigns in our community will help this bill resonate with lawmakers.

"Hopefully, it will give some more credit to the legislation," Barrington said. "I would certainly hope so. I don't hope for more violence. That wouldn't be my intention."

Barbara Burk is haunted by the fact that protective orders don't stop domestic violence, but she said Oklahoma has to start some where.

"Until we have something in place to affect a person that has threatened someone's life, something that they know they will have to answer for if they violate it, the violence will continue."

Senator Barrington said there were some modifications made to the bill since it was last filed. Last year, the bill stated that if you had a protective order filed against you, your weapons could be taken from your home. That portion of the bill has been eliminated for now.

We will keep you updated on the status of this bill once it is assigned a committee and discussed more by lawmakers.

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