By Emily Younker
JOPLIN, Mo. —
A local push to toughen domestic-violence laws is slowly spreading across the state of Missouri, organizers said Monday.
Friends and former co-workers of Monica Webb, a Joplin woman who authorities say was killed by her husband late last year, are circulating petitions statewide calling for creation of a task force that would deal proactively with cases of domestic violence. The proposal is called Monica’s Law, in memory of the slain woman.
“It’s been not even three months since Monica’s death, and we’ve come a long way,” said Jason Calvin, a founder of the group that is circulating the petitions. “We’re really pleased with our progress to this point.”
Monica Webb, 36, had reported that her estranged husband, Rondias Webb, 35, violated a protection order Nov. 4 when he approached her in a bar and informed her that he knew where she had moved to get away from him. The reporting of the violation led to the mailing of a summons to Rondias Webb and not the issuance of an arrest warrant.
Monica Webb’s report was made less than two weeks before her husband allegedly shot and killed her inside her new home on Nov. 17. After shooting her, Rondias Webb shot himself but survived, according to court records.
Her friends have organized an online group called On a Mission for Monica, through which their primary goal is launching Monica’s Law. Their original focus was to establish a domestic-violence task force in Jasper and Newton counties.
That focus has since broadened. The group plans to submit the petitions to state legislators this fall with the hope that Monica’s Law could be implemented statewide, Calvin said.
Since launching the petition drive this month, organizers have mailed more than 60 packets to individuals interested in collecting signatures on behalf of the group, he said.
“We had an overwhelming response of people sending us their address” to receive a petition packet, Calvin said. “We’re talking people all over the state of Missouri. We were kind of floored when we realized what kind of response we got.”
Rebecca Joice-Moore, another member of On a Mission for Monica, said she doesn’t know how many signatures have so far been collected, but she hopes to get 5,000 by the time the petitions are delivered.
According to Joice-Moore, the task force — under Monica’s Law, as proposed — would:
• Take all calls or reports from petitioners for protection orders.
• Give advice to petitioners on how to diffuse possible future issues.
• Assign to petitioners a social worker who can provide information about safety and self-protection.
• Require that respondents of protection orders check in daily with the task force.
• Require a mental health exam, a drug/alcohol test and an anger management course for respondents.
• Treat violators of a protection order as an immediate threat, and issue and serve a warrant for arrest in a timely manner.
• Require that violators of a protection order be held for 12 hours.
• Create a felony offense for respondents who make physical contact with the petitioner.
Joice-Moore said she thinks the proposal could be implemented in any city or county to handle cases of domestic violence.
“This covers such a broad area,” she said. “It covers so many lives; domestic violence is in every social circle.”
The group has a Facebook page, where there also is a link to the online petition through change.org.
A CANDLELIGHT SERVICE in memory of Monica Webb is in the planning stages for May. Organizers say they hope the service will also bring awareness to the On a Mission for Monica campaign and the issue of domestic violence.