Zero Tolerance for Domestic Violence

Contra Costa County

hands shaking

Our Beginnings

Authorized as the first Zero Tolerance for Domestic Violence County in the State of California (SB 968), Contra Costa County is successfully implementing a coordinated approach to address the devastating impacts of domestic violence, family violence, elder abuse, and human trafficking.  Zero Tolerance’s approach is characterized by:

  • Efficient system improvements
  • Accountability for results
  • Policy and practice changes
  • Investment by stakeholders and outside funders pocketoption
  • Strong public/private partnerships

Successful Coordination

Since 2001, Zero Tolerance’s coordinated approach has built an effective foundation for sustainable and wide-reaching improvements over time.  Victim services are integrated across multiple disciplines, public/private partnerships have resulted in new, successful strategies and Contra Costa County has demonstrated its success by building capacity and improving the lives of children and families. This common vision and resulting accomplishments include:

  • Funding for Families Thrive a system to coordinate and educate providers and agencies
  • Increased efficiency and accountability through our Safe & Bright Futures, periodic Safety Audit, and evaluation
  • Increased perpetrator accountability through the Grants to Encourage Arrest program
  • Amplified protection and government /community visibility for victims and children via the DELTA program
  • Ensured accountability among partners and to the public for results
  • Continued political commitment and will overseen by our Board.

Service Area

Bordering the San Francisco Bay, Contra Costa County is 10 miles northeast of San Francisco.  With a population of just over one million (ninth most populous County in California) and an area of 733 square miles, Contra Costa County is home to both heavily urbanized areas and pocket option bonus farmlands and a population that is both racially and socio-economically diverse.

The County’s three regions—Central, East, and West—range broadly in violence risk factors.  Many of these factors include poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, and exposure to other forms of violence in the community.  Regionally, the three greatest high-risk cities are Richmond,Concord, and Antioch.  Domestic violence, family violence, and elder abuse are present in all County communities because they have no racial, socio-economic or geographic boundaries.

Original Needs for Coordination

In 1999, the multiple agencies (government, community service providers and twenty-one law enforcement jurisdictions) involved in the domestic violence system were not coordinated.  Efforts were disjointed and the complex issues and diverse approaches, policies, and systems led to fragmented interventions with limited success.

Pilot Program Draft

Recognizing the need for a different strategy, in February 2000 the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors adopted a policy of “Zero Tolerance for Domestic Violence” and directed the County Administrator to convene a meeting of leaders (County and community) responsible for domestic and family violence and elder abuse prevention, intervention, prosecution and remediation.

In October 2000, over 50 local experts from across the County participated in a full-day “Zero Tolerance” workshop to identify and prioritize system improvements. The group identified broad strategic directions for the new system.

  • Coordinate domestic and family violence and elder abuse intervention
  • Establish multidisciplinary teams to monitor perpetrators and serve victims and their families

Vision & Leadership


Tom Torlakson

In 2001, Senator Torlakson authored SB 425, which declared Contra Costa County the first Zero Tolerance for Domestic Violence County in the State of California.  It authorized a pilot program in the County to facilitate governmental oversight and coordination of domestic violence, family violence and elder abuse prevention, intervention, and prosecution. The funding provided was a modest increase in marriage license fees and certified copies of marriage and birth certificates and death and fetal death records. This bill has been replaced in 2006 with Senate Bill 968, which establishes indefinite funding for continued governmental oversight and coordination of violence prevention, intervention, and prosecution.

Our Mission

The mission of the Zero Tolerance initiative is to effect a systems change that reduces interpersonal violence (domestic violence, family violence, sexual violence and human trafficking) by fostering the development and implementation of collaborative, coordinated and integrated services, supports, interventions and prevention activities.

Guiding Principals

The work of the Zero Tolerance initiative is devoted to the creation of safe and nurturing communities through the elimination of all types of domestic violence/elder abuse in families and personal relationships and is guided by specific overarching principals and values in the plan.


  • Align policies, practices and protocols for core responders.
  • Create a system of prevention.

Ten Year Retrospective


Ten Year Retrospective Report on the Initiative’s positive impacts in our community.