Named in honor of Pheonecia Ratliff of Canton, Mississippi, who lost her life due to domestic violence, “Operation Pheonecia” is a new initiative launched to directly combat domestic violence with the intent to prevent harm and loss of life before they occur.
Ratliff was a senior at Jackson State University, a mother, and was working two jobs. On May 14, 2020, the 23-year-old was kidnapped and murdered by her ex-boyfriend who then turned the gun on himself. Sadly, Ratliff had filed domestic violence and stalking charges against Jamariquis Black the week before the murder-suicide.
Southern District of Mississippi, U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst says, “The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%, and with intimate partner violence accounting for 15% of all violent crime and with almost 20% of domestic violence incidents involving a weapon.”
Hurst said, “Under this initiative, and by working with federal, state, and local law enforcement and nonprofit entities, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is making the investigation and prosecution of federal domestic violence crimes a priority. “
“In addition, “Operation Pheonecia” will involve a campaign to put domestic abusers on notice of their prohibition to possessing firearms, train law enforcement on how to investigate federal domestic violence crimes, provide education for local judges as to the impact of their orders on potential federal criminal prosecutions, and bring awareness to local bar associations and the public on how to report domestic violence crimes to and work with federal authorities, with the overarching goal to reduce domestic violence, save lives and assist victims,” said Hurst.