Grants to fund five domestic violence positions
Two large grants, totaling over $1.3 million, will help Jefferson County address problems with domestic violence and sexual assault.
"As October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it is appropriate to announce that Jefferson County has received two grants from the U.S. Department of Justice," District Attorney Steve Leriche noted.
The grants -- $912,139, for the Rural Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Assistance Program, and $399,984 for the Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders Program -- were awarded by the Office of Violence Against Women on Sept. 23 and 26, respectively.
The funding, which will be disbursed over two- and three-year periods, will enable the county to hire five additional employees.
The county will hire two additional bilingual victim's assistance advocates, an investigator for the District Attorney's Office, a domestic violence probation officer and an advocate for Saving Grace.
"The grants will also train four nurses as sexual assault nurse examiners, with the goal of having 24-hour-a-day coverage for sexual assault victims within Jefferson County," said Leriche.
With updated computer and communication systems, the Madras Police Department, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's Office will able to obtain and share up-to-date offender information, he pointed out.
"These grants provide a tremendous opportunity to make meaningful changes to the services provided to the victims of crime, from the initial investigation through the completion of a case and even beyond with increased probation supervision," said Leriche.
The grants were awarded through a competitive, national process.
"Twila Rosenberg, my director of the Victim's Assistance Program, deserves all of the credit for tirelessly working on the grant applications for weeks," he said. "During, these economic hard times when budgets have decreased, I am hopeful that these grants will help to revitalize law enforcement and make Jefferson County a safer place."
Leriche said the county received the grants in the past, allowing extensive officer training, but since that time, there has been "a lot of turnover."
While domestic violence is a problem all over the country, "I do think we have some particular challenges here," said Leriche.
"We have some pretty high levels of substance abuse, which go hand in hand with domestic violence," he said. "We have poverty issues that sometimes contribute; we have a lot of risk factors that can help aggravate domestic problems."
"It's cool that all these resources are coming to our particular place."
Leriche said the county has begun advertising to fill the new positions. "It's very exciting," he said. "I hope some local citizens will be able to take advantage."