Grant secures help for victims of violence

Every month, the Family Support Council makes contact with at least 30 new clients.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office answers 1,000 calls a year for domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault.

As the population grows, officials expect these numbers to increase.

But with the help of a $500,000 federal grant, more assistance is on the way for victims of these crimes.

Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson is to address county commissioners Oct. 18 about adding an investigator and probation officer to staff paid for by the two-year grant.

Jackson met with representatives of the Family Support Council, the sheriff's office, Partnership of Community Resources, and the Department of Alternative Sentencing to work on a plan which would meet the requirements of the Department of Justice grant.

"There were many late nights and hundreds of e-mails back and forth," Jackson said.

The grant will fund creation of the Special Victims Response Team.

Adding staff will help the district attorney's office improve its 20 percent success rate at trial with domestic violence cases, Jackson said.

"The earlier the district attorney's office can intervene, the higher the success rate," Jackson said.

Between the time of arrest and prosecution of the alleged offender, victims often recant because they are afraid of the offender or fear they will lose the support at home the batterer provides.

"In a lot of instances, the offender goes back and dissuades the victim from prosecuting," he said. "Once the victim talks to the alleged perpetrator, concerns come up about paying bills, or other support. If the violence happens again, the victim seldom calls the district attorney."

Jackson hopes an investigator on scene within 12 hours or sooner after the incident is reported will provide the victim with additional support

The probation officer will exclusively handle domestic battery cases, said Chief Probation Officer Doug Swam.

"The officer will have about 50 cases a month which doesn't sound like a lot," Swalm said. "But it will definitely be a full-time position."

The probation officer will supervise the perpetrator who will be equipped with a global position system to track movements.

The officer also will randomly test domestic battery suspects on probation for use of alcohol and controlled substances, what experts say is the root of most crimes.

Cheryl Bricker, executive director of the Partnership of Community Resources, wrote the successful grant application with information from each agency.

The grant comes as the county prepares to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto is the guest speaker Monday at the 10th annual Candlelight Vigil at 6 p.m. at Heritage Park in Gardnerville.


The Purple Ribbon Coalition and Family Support Council invite the community to the 10th annual Candlelight Vigil to commemorate victims of domestic violence at 6 p.m. Oct. 1 at Heritage Park in Gardnerville. Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto is the keynote speaker. Information, 782-8692.


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