Grant Would Help Fight Violence
An approximate 30 percent increase in domestic violence offenses in Wetzel County in the last couple years is prompting Wetzel County Sheriff James Hoskins to apply for a grant to help enhance the county’s fight against domestic violence.
Hoskins and the YWCA Family Violence Prevention Program recently worked together to submit an application for a STOP (Service Training Officers Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Recovery Act grant.
This grant can be used to help in the training of law enforcement, prosecutors, and other court personnel to identify and respond to violent crimes against women including sexual assault, domestic violence, and dating violence. It would also improve prosecution and develop or increase effective responses to the needs of the victims.
In Wetzel County, Hoskins stated that this money would be be used to hire another deputy that could work specifically on domestic violence cases. While a DV officer could also be used to fill in some for vacations, emergencies, etc., Hoskins said his main focus would be domestic violence.
“I think this deputy will be utilized a good bit (for domestic violence), said Hoskins. He further elaborated that Family Court Judge Robert C. Hicks has said having one officer for domestic cases is very important because the victims feel more comfortable dealing with a familiar face.
The STOP grant includes a necessary component of a STOP team that must meet once per quarter. It must consist of a minimum of law enforcement, prosecution, and a private non-profit, non-governmental victim service provider. However, it may include other agencies in the team area that wish to participate. According to Hoskins, Assistant Prosecutor Worthy Paul, who deals specifically with domestic cases, has given a verbal commitment to the team.
By the end of the grant term, records will show STOP team participation and effects. “These are the kinds of things that can make a big difference in the county,” said Debbie Wood, director of the YWCA Family Violence Prevention Program.
She said her experience with similar teams in Marshall and Ohio counties has shown them to be very beneficial.
The county commission showed some concern about the financial aspects of the reimbursement grant. Commission President Don Mason said he wants to make sure the outlay from the county is returned in a timely manner. Wood assured she has never had any problems with STOP paybacks. “I do not perceive any delay in repayment,” she said. “This one’s going to be good. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
As the grant was written and submitted, the YWCA will be the fiscal agent for the grant. In other words, the county will pay the deputy, the sheriff will send his time sheet to the YWCA, who will send the necessary paperwork to Charleston, receive the payment, and then forward it to the county.
Wood and Hoskins said they should know by the end of May if Wetzel County was awarded a STOP grant.