In November 2019, Marine Corps veteran and mother of three Tiffany Hill was shot and killed by her estranged husband. Despite having a restraining order in place, she died in front of her children while sitting in her car in their elementary school parking lot. Now, Washington state lawmakers have enacted changes in hopes of keeping this from happening again, with the implementation of electronic monitoring with victim notification (EMVNT).
A History of Domestic Violence
According to news reports, the Hills’ marriage had been volatile. The history was so extensive that the prosecutor in Tiffany Hill’s case asked for a $2 million bail for her abuser—the highest bail she’s ever asked for in a domestic violence case—because she felt that Hill was in such extreme danger of being physically harmed by him. Although the judge did set a bail that was considered high, he was able to make bail and was released from jail.
The timeline of events shows that despite the fact that Hill reported the abuse and went through the proper channels to try to protect herself from her husband, he continued to stalk and harass her, repeatedly violating the protection order, and ultimately shooting and killing Tiffany and himself.
Bill Approves Electronic Notification for Domestic Violence Victims
Championed by Senator Lynda Wilson, Senate Bill 5149—otherwise known as the Tiffany Hill Act—was unanimously approved by the Washington state Senate in January 2020. On April 1, Governor Jay Inslee signed the act into law, thereby officially providing victims of domestic violence access to technology that could help prevent further abuse in cases like Tiffany’s. This legislation makes possible the use of GPS electronic monitoring with victim notification for cases involving protection orders. EMVNT can notify a victim or protected party when a monitored individual enters within a restricted distance of a protected person or place, giving victims of domestic violence access to technology that could help prevent further abuse.
How GPS with Victim Notification Works
The Washington Administrative Office of the Courts has now approved vendors to begin filling this critical need. EMVNT will be successfully implemented by providing GPS monitoring combined with victim notification technology. The supervising agency places a GPS monitoring device on the alleged perpetrator so that their location is tracked at all times. The victim is not required to carry or wear a GPS device but instead installs an app onto their own smartphone. The app allows victim location data to be sent to a server which can then identify if the GPS client enters prohibited proximity zones, particularly if they are near the victim’s location. If a GPS client goes within proximity to the victim’s phone, both the victim and the supervising authorities are notified.
Ideally, in a case like Tiffany Hill’s, a victim would be able to take appropriate protective measures by seeking shelter somewhere safe, giving control back to them in a way that has been previously unavailable.
Washington State Domestic Violence Statistics (2019)
- 56,532 domestic violence incidents reports
- Domestic violence offenses made up 47.2% of all crimes against persons
- There were 12,649 violations of protection/no contact orders
- 74.8% of all protection/no contact orders reported were related to domestic violence