Cuyahoga County's Witness/Victim Service Center has been selected as one of four national sites by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to participate in the second phase of the nationwide Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative.
The $650,000 award follows an 18-month planning process under the guidance of DOJ, during which 12 national sites were evaluated and competed for this second phase.
"I am proud that the Department of Justice is recognizing Cuyahoga County's continued work to eliminate domestic violence and sexual assault," said FitzGerald. "Cuyahoga County's Witness/Victim Service Center provides an invaluable service to our community, and I am pleased that they are now a finalist for the Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative."
As a result of the award, the Cuyahoga County Witness/Victim Service Center will implement a Domestic Violence High Risk Team in Cleveland Police Districts 1 and 5.
The High Risk Team model creates a vehicle for communication among multiple disciplines to provide the best possible response to domestic violence victims at high risk of being killed by their abusers.
Teams work together from the time an incident is reported through arrest, prosecution, sentencing, and the offender's release. The victim is empowered to plan for and seek safety at every step and is provided with support to make safe decisions.
"The Department of Justice is proud to fund the expansion of these innovative programs, which we believe will save lives," said U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach said. "We continue to embrace comprehensive approaches to combating crime, which incorporate both enforcement and prevention."
The High Risk Team model, implemented through the State of Massachusetts and identified by DOJ as a best practice, increases victim safety and offender accountability simultaneously, resulting in lower instances of homicide attributed to domestic violence.
The Cuyahoga County Witness/Victim Service Center will work in partnership with the City of Cleveland Division of Police and the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center to implement the Domestic Violence High Risk Team.
Cleveland Division of Police Chief Calvin Williams said "Domestic Violence is a problem we face in our communities, a problem which occurs across all boundaries. We must work together to end the cycle of Domestic Violence. Through education services and by providing resources to families and survivors, we come closer to a solution every day. I am excited about the opportunity to work together with our law enforcement partners to break the cycle of Domestic Violence."
Linda Johanek, Chief Executive Officer of the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center added, "Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy is thrilled to partner on this grant to bring a national model to Cuyahoga County to reduce and prevent domestic violence injuries and homicides."