McCollum announces expansion of InVest program to reduce domestic violence homicides listen07/16/09 Seán Kinane
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A pilot program that aims to reduce the number of fatal domestic violence cases in Florida is expanding into six new counties. Attorney General Bill McCollum announced today the growth of the Intimate Violence Enhanced Services Team, or InVest.
The InVest program is already in place in Alachua, Duval, Orange, Seminole, and St. Lucie counties. Attorney General McCollum, who is running for the Republican nomination for Governor, announced Thursday that the program is expanding into Broward, Collier, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota and Suwannee counties.
“We have all too many women particularly who are battered; who are harmed and who are in harm’s way with the potential of being killed.”
Chris Warwick, director of The Haven domestic violence shelter in Pinellas County, says the program aims to reduce homicides through a partnership between social service providers and law enforcement.
“In this partnership, an advocate from The Haven and a detective from the sheriff’s department will review police reports every day. They’ll look for flags indicating high lethality. Contact will be made with the victim and the abuser. Services will be offered to the victim and abusers will be held accountable and given referrals. This is a first step in bringing the numbers of these homicides down.”
During a press conference at the University of South Florida announcing the InVest expansion, Tiffany Carr condemned the increasing numbers of domestic violence homicides. Carr is president and CEO of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Surrounded by law enforcement officials, social service providers, and the state’s Attorney General, Carr recalled recent tragedies from the Tampa Bay area that might have been prevented with better coordination between law enforcement and victim advocates.
InVest expansion is possible because of two federal grants totaling about $2 million. They are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to Carr.
“One funding source is through the Attorney General’s office - the primary funding source – and it’s VOCA, Victims of Crime Act. It’s a federal earmark and it was stimulus funding – Recovery money. The other piece that complemented it was also Recovery funding, and it was earmarked through the Violence against Women Act, that is administered through the Department of Children & Families. So that specific pot of funding pays for the advocate at the law enforcement agency and the VOCA money specifically pays for an advocate in the domestic violence center.”
Attorney General Bill McCollum thinks that a program like InVest could help reduce the number of domestic violence homicides in Florida.
The partnership between social service workers and law enforcement is a key to the program’s success, according to McCollum.
Victims of domestic abuse can call 1-800-500-1119 for assistance and referrals.