Dedicated Officer to Investigate Domestic Violence Crimes
Posted on Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
Marietta city leaders have announced a grant to employ a fulltime domestic violence officer for the city and county starting January 1.
“We are very pleased. Domestic violence is a paramount issue, not just in Marietta but in Love County and elsewhere. To add an officer with that sole responsibility will make an impact in this community and benefit the entire county,” said Marietta Mayor Michelle Porter.
The grant, for almost $50,000, has been awarded under the federal S.T.O.P Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
VAWA programs address family violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence through projects administered by law enforcement, courts and victim services.
To obtain the award, the Marietta City Council agreed to furnish uniforms, equipment, police vehicle, office space, and supervision in the Police Department.
Under terms of the grant, the officer will be cross-deputized to investigate domestic violence crimes throughout Love County.
A grant advisory group consisting of the assistant district attorney, sheriff’s department, police departments, and victim advocate will meet regularly to evaluate the initiative.
“We hope we keep the officer busy and can make a difference for domestic violence crimes,” Sheriff Joe Russell said.
Filing for the position, which calls for CLEET certification, closed Nov. 30.
“We consider this one of the more wonderful things to happen in a long time,” said City Council President Linda Briggs. The officer will be a perfect complement to the victim advocate services that are already in place here. This puts our city and county a giant step ahead.”
Marietta Police Chief Linda Johnson said VAWA permits a renewed application year-to-year, as long as grant funding remains available. A second officer may also be requested.
While the primary purpose of VAWA projects is to strengthen prosecution of offenders of domestic violence crimes, Johnson said the officer will be engaged in public outreach, as well.
“I would love to be able to look back after the first year and see that there were victims we helped bring an end to domestic violence and potential victims that we helped before they were abused,” she said.
Johnson said the investigator will receive training in the dynamics of domestic violence crimes through the Love County Victim Advocate office, the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma, and the C-SARA Foundation.
All are engaged in serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in southern Oklahoma.
“The new officer provides the missing link, the investigative part of making cases,” Johnson said.
Love County victim advocate Yolanda Gay, who worked closely with Johnson in developing the grant application, concurred.
“It’s a excellent opportunity, because domestic violence cases require time and attention. A specialist investigator will be able to respond appropriately to each case from the first encounter and we’ll see fewer victims going back into violent situations,” she said.
More information about local services for domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and date battery are available by contacting the victim advocate office at 276-2042. The 24-hour hotline number is 226-6424.