Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program
The Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program (SCIP) is a comprehensive grant program that focuses on mitigating firearm violence-related risks and identifying connections between firearms and intimate partner abusers and mass violence, community violence and violence against law enforcement.
Funding strategies to Improve Implementation and Enforcement of Laws for Court-ordered Firearm Surrender & Prohibitions
In recent years, the Washington Legislature has adopted and strengthened laws to address the possession of firearms by persons who are at risk to themselves or others:
• Authorizing Extreme Risk Protection Orders allowing family and household members or law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from a person who is a threat to self or others
• Requiring firearm dealers to notify law enforcement when an individual prohibited from firearm possession attempts to purchase firearms
• Mandating temporary removal of firearms and presenting firearms licensing and purchase history to the court when there is a 911 response to a domestic violence incident
• Requiring notification of victims before firearms are returned to a person formerly subject to an order or prohibition
• Strengthening firearms prohibitions and procedures for all types of civil protection orders
These measures are constructed to safeguard the constitutional rights of an individual subject to their application. Sustainable, comprehensive, and consistent implementation and enforcement of these laws is essential to their effectiveness. This requires concerted, coordinated, and timely actions taken by courts, law enforcement, victim advocates, prosecutors, and others working in and with the civil and criminal legal systems.
Research has increasingly identified connections between armed intimate partner abusers and mass violence, community violence, and violence against law enforcement. Suicides constitute almost 75% of firearm fatalities in Washington. For all of these types of lethal risks, one of the most important harm reduction measures is court orders that prohibit firearm possession by individuals who present a heightened risk of harm. We know there are steps that can be taken to more effectively, timely, and uniformly issue, serve, and enforce those orders.
In SFY 2023, OFSVP distributed $1 million in state funds to support a suite of initial, time-limited projects to identify steps needed to improve the implementation and enforcement of Washington laws related to removing firearms from individuals and to issue, serve, and enforce court orders that prohibit firearm possession by individuals who present a heightened risk of harm to themselves or others such as Orders to Surrender and Prohibit Weapons (OTSWs) and Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs).
This initial investment confirmed that Washington needs to expand and invest in the adoption of best practices in training, policies, and implementation of firearm relinquishment programs and in making sure system partners and families have access to accurate and accessible information.
Building on the foundational analysis and recommendations developed with the state funding, in the coming years, OFSVP will invest in next steps to improve the implementation and enforcement of Washington laws related to firearms relinquishment and prohibitions using U.S. Department of Justice funding from the Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program (SCIP) created under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act adopted by Congress in 2022.
SCIP is designed to assist state, local, and tribal efforts to prevent or reduce crime and violence, with a particular focus on gun violence and the implementation of extreme risk protection orders in particular. This federal opportunity provides our state with a timely and badly needed opportunity to improve on current efforts to mitigate firearm-related risks through improved use of court orders that prohibit firearm possession by individuals who present a heightened risk of harm.
The SCIP program will run for at least five years. Through grant processes, subawards will be made from the Department of Commerce to government agencies, nonprofit organizations, consultants, researchers, and other qualifying entities, building on efforts already started in the state. At least 40% of the funding will be passed through to local and tribal governments.
Washington has been awarded $5.2 million for the first two years of SCIP. The state is expected to receive approximately half that amount for the three remaining years of the program. Under the guidance of an advisory board, this funding will be directed at improving the implementation of our protection order laws, and — specifically — carrying out the recommendations coming out of last year’s efforts.
In the state of Washington, SCIP funding will be specifically focused on improving the implementation and enforcement of protection order laws that can keep firearms out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves or others. Washington’s Byrne SCIP is designed around the following five program areas:
Five Primary SCIP Program Areas
One of the most important ways that criminal and civil legal systems and communities can effectively reduce lethal violence and other threats of harm is by using best practices to remove firearms from domestic violence scenes and to issue, serve, and enforce court orders that prohibit firearm possession by individuals who present heightened risk of harm such as Orders to Surrender and Prohibit Weapons and Extreme Risk Protection Orders. Additional training across system partners – particularly law enforcement agencies, courts, and prosecutors’ offices – is important to successful implementation and enforcement of laws, including swift and comprehensive relinquishment of weapons.
Subject matter experts and communications specialists can help to develop and distribute current, consistent, accurate, and easy to use information and online tools; develop public service announcements and public education campaigns using trusted messengers to increase public understanding about and use of laws, and change behavior; and provide technical assistance. Audiences include petitioners, respondents, health care professionals, educators and school personnel, crisis responders, dispatchers handling 988 calls, victims service providers, advocates, court personnel, law enforcement or others involved in increasing awareness of, explaining, seeking, serving and complying with or enforcing Washington’s civil laws involving court-ordered firearm relinquishment.
Some Washington state jurisdictions have implemented multi-disciplinary and/or multi-jurisdictional approaches to issue, serve, and enforce firearm relinquishment orders. Some law enforcement agencies have created specialized units with expertise, training and designated personnel assigned to serve and enforce the orders. Some courts have created protection order and compliance calendars focused on these cases or added use of system navigators. These models, or aspects or variations of these models, can be scaled up, replicated or modified in additional communities across the state to incorporate reforms in state law and help meet local needs.
This program area builds on programs to safely secure, store, track and return relinquished guns and programs to support gun storage.
This program area focuses on research, data collection, and evaluation of processes and outcomes to improve the understanding and effectiveness of the implementation and enforcement of court-ordered firearm relinquishment. There is a need for better quality data and infrastructure to support comprehensive and consistent reporting that will better support research and evaluation efforts. Research can also help inform the future distribution of SCIP funds and recommendations for additional systemic improvements in the implementation and enforcement of laws involving firearm relinquishment.
News and Academic Articles/Stories
- The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, 1 Year Later
- Firearm Restrictions in Domestic Violence Protection Orders
- Red Flag Laws Are Saving Lives. They Could Save More. Stateline, Matt Vasilogambros – Oct. 5, 2021
- Research Needs Related To Firearm Rights Restoration, Commentary, Kafka, et al – Jan 5, 2024
- Suicide-related behavior and firearm access among perpetrators of domestic violence subject to domestic violence protection order, Prevention Medicine Reports, Dalve et al – Jan 2024
Resources and Fact Sheets
- Protection orders and victim support, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
- Extreme Risk Protection Order Support, King County Prosecuting Attorney Office
- File for a Protection Order | Printable Packet, Northwest Justice Project
- Protection Orders | Snohomish County, WA
- Understanding Protection Orders, Washington Courts
- Extreme Risk Protection Order Resources (jhu.edu)
- Washington-specific ERPO Resource (jhu.edu)
- Washington Domestic Violence Firearm Prohibition Resources (disarmdv.org)
SCIP Advisory Board Members
- Kate Kelly, co-Chair
- Judge Anne Levinson, (Ret.), co-Chair
- Judge Jackie Brown, Benton-Franklin Superior Court
- Emma Catague
- Adam Cornell, Snohomish Co. Prosecuting Attorney (Ret.)
- John DeRousse, Police Chief, City of Everett Police Department
- Melisa Evangelos, JD, Assistant Director Tacoma Probono Community Lawyers
- Renee Hopkins, CEO Alliance for Gun Responsibility
- Jolaine Joseph, Educational Psychologist and Survivor
- Susie Kroll, MHP
- Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, MD, PhD, MPH, UW Professor of Epidemiology
- Chief Judge Cindy K. Smith, Suquamish Tribal Court
- Kim Wyatt, ERPO Prosecuting Attorney, Regional Domestic Violence Firearms Enforcement Unit, King Co.