Operation Safe Families nets 5,500 domestic violence offenders

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - Law enforcement agencies around the state just wrapped up a month long effort to catch domestic violence suspects, and the numbers are staggering. 

399 arrests in Hillsborough County, 229 in Polk, 177 in Pinellas, and those are just some of the arrests in the Bay Area alone.

From October 13 th through November 9 th, officers across the state hunted down two types of fugitives, dead beat dads and those who had committed domestic violence, bringing 5,500 people to justice.

Zuleika Gonzalez spoke out at the press conference Friday as the face of domestic violence.

"I was college educated I grew up with a mom and a dad and I was a victim of domestic violence," said Gonzalez. 

While there wasn't any sort of special sweep when Gonzalez' abuser was brought to justice, she says the task force is very important to shed light on domestic violence, and it was thanks to law enforcement that she's safe today.

"My first help came from the police officer who came that night and responded the night my batterer tried to take my life," said Gonzalez.

Through Operation Safe Families, Sheriff's from across the state banded together, making sure abusers didn't slip through the cracks. 

Pinellas County's Sheriff described domestic violence as an epidemic that turns families homes into places of fear.

"This person picked up a large landscape rock and threw it at his girlfriend, striking her in the head, nearly knocking her unconscious, she had just asked for car keys, in front of their two kids," said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.

Law enforcement officials say 89 children were also removed from their homes during Operation Safe Families, and even though the sweep is over, officials say their efforts will continue.

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