A resolution supporting new training to help identify victims of domestic violence passed the Committee on Public Safety Monday, but Springfield will need to make the next move. The resolution approved Monday (R2015-480) will kick off hearings in Chicago about the feasibility of a possible statewide program that would train salon workers to identify and aid victims. Cosmetologists would be required to complete an hour of training to identify victims and help them seek out law enforcement when they apply for or new or renewed their license. The bill, HB-4264, was recently amended and referred to the Rules Committee in the Illinois House. It added 20 co-sponsors last week.
In Chicago, the resolution calling for hearings on the potential program in Chicago has 36 co-sponsors, and was introduced by Ald. Matt O’Shea (19) and Ald. Marge Laurino (39).
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez testified in favor of hearings. “A quick trip to the salon may be the only time a victim is in the company of others for more than a few minutes without their abuser present, and women tend to bond with their hairdressers, as I certainly know,” she told aldermen. She says her office’s “staggeringdomestic violence caseloads include 15,000 misdemeanor domestic violence prosecutions and more than 500 felony cases a year. Those numbers don’t include murder or sexual assault cases likely linked to domestic violence, she says.
Alvarez was one of many political figures that have appeared in the anti-domestic violence “Chicago Says No More” TV PSAs. Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner have also appeared in the ads.
Tara Campbell, a survivor of domestic abuse who now works with Chicago Says No More testified that court advocates and friends were crucial members of her tribe, but bringing salon workers into the mix would be “monumental.” Her own hairdresser was a key support during her abuse. “She knew everything… I would often share with her the gory details of my experience.”
Training salon workers could help address abuse of all kinds, Ald. Emma Mitts (37) told Alvarez, voicing her support. “I don’t know no one who talk more than people talk in salons. Anything you want to know, go to salons… Too many people are being abused and they don’t know they’re being abused.”
Cosmetologists renew licenses every two years in Illinois. A similar program that passed last spring in Ohio is slated to train 120,000 salon and spa workers. It’s sponsored by the Professional Beauty Association Foundation.
The committee also approved a substitute ordinance changing the destination of a donated ambulance to Charcas, San Luîs Potosî, Mexico, a municipality with 20,000 people but just 112 ambulances. The donation was supposed to go to Mexico’s Red Cross, in Ciudad Sahagun, Hidalgo, Mexico, but Evelyn Rodriguez, a staffer for Ald. Joe Moreno (1), said there were “financial issues” and the vehicle should be redirected.
The resolution and substitute ordinance both passed by voice vote, and will be reported out at Wednesday’s full City Council meeting.