One by one, local law enforcement officials, prosecutors and advocates plastered a wall with sheets of paper proclaiming words such as "courage," "safety," "compassion" and "respect."
Those are just a few values they hope will describe the work done at Sacramento County's future family justice center, a vision that brought about 150 people together for a two-day planning workshop this week.
While there is no concrete timeline for the opening of the center, workshop participants created five standing committees that will meet to discuss issues such as budget, law enforcement and services. The larger group will reconvene in March for updates, said Assistant District Attorney Albert Locher.
"There's a definite commitment to continue forward," Locher said.
A decadelong trend, family justice centers aim to bring agencies and nonprofit organizations that serve victims of domestic violence together under one roof, allowing victims to address their needs in one place.
Sacramento District Attorney Jan Scully, who is leading the local effort, opened Monday's session with some stark statistics reflecting the extent of domestic violence in the region.
Scully said her staff members last year reviewed 6,000 cases presented to them by local law enforcement agencies. Her prosecutors filed on almost half of them.
"It touches all aspects of our community," she said. "There is no boundary for family violence."
So far, there is no promised funding for the center. In an interview with The Bee, Scully said she hopes local jurisdictions will commit money to the effort, and that grants will supplement that funding.
Organizers also will have to find a suitable location for the center. Locher said city, county and state officials have expressed willingness to look for vacant buildings in the area that could be candidates.
Despite the major decisions yet to come, Scully said she is optimistic the center will be a reality.
"This is such a good way to focus our energy so we're working together," she said. "The opportunities are limitless."
In 2002, San Diego was the first jurisdiction to create a family justice center. Since then, 12 jurisdictions across California, including Yolo County, have followed its lead. Several cities elsewhere in the nation and even a few countries, such as Mexico and Jordan, also have opened centers.
A year after San Diego's center opened its doors, then-President George W. Bush lauded the city's efforts and dedicated $20 million to help launch more like it.
The U.S. Department of Justice considers the family justice center model a "best practice" in the field of domestic violence prevention and intervention.
Gael Strack, San Diego's first center director and now chief executive officer of the National Family Justice Center Alliance, said such facilities ease the burden on domestic violence victims who don't know where to go for help.
Often, victims need medical attention, counseling, shelter, legal aid or help finding a job. Centers help victims seek justice and rebuild when they are vulnerable, frightened and confused, Strack said.
"This is absolutely daunting and scary to them," she said. "They don't know how to navigate (the system). They need help."
Existing centers have such features as police interview rooms, computer labs and chaplaincies, often in a stand-alone building. They house representatives from nonprofits, social service agencies and law enforcement.
In Sacramento County, Scully said more than 80 agencies and groups serve victims as well as perpetrators of domestic violence. She said the goal is not to replace or undermine any of those community-based groups; rather, the idea is to "help them do their jobs better" and reach more families.
Those benefits are behind drops in domestic violence-related calls to police and even homicides in San Diego and other jurisdictions with family justice centers, Strack said.
"You're the (state) capital," Strack told workshop participants. "Everybody is looking to you for leadership."