The Statesville Police Department has hired two investigators in an effort to reduce the number of domestic violence cases, which impact as many as one-third of all reported criminal cases in the city.
Seventy-five percent of the costs associated with hiring the investigators will be covered by a two-year grant from the N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission.
The investigators – Attrie Wooten and Christy Cleary – will work individually and in conjunction with other police officers and city agencies, focusing their efforts on incidents related to domestic violence, including homicides, sexual assaults, stalking and other acts of violence. The state grant, effective July 1 will run for two years. Under terms of the grant, $199,871 will be provided to the city to cover the investigators’ salaries and benefits; Statesville will provide $66,623 from surplus local funds.
The city council approved the local match at its July meeting, during which Mayor Costi Kutteh commended Pam Navey, the city’s new community resource coordinator, who wrote the grant application.
“Police Chief Tom Anderson told me that he was contacted directly by the Governor’s Crime Commission to advise him that the application was extremely well done and that Statesville was actually awarded double the amount requested,” Kutteh said.
Statesville police officials have repeatedly cited a major need for such investigatory enhancements, noting many domestic violence victims absorb significant abuse and violence before they ever call for help.
“We have also found that many victims often give up before the criminal justice process runs its course,” Navey said. “One of the primary jobs for our new investigators will be to escort (victims) through the process and encourage them not to give up.”
Navey, who also is chairman of the Iredell County Domestic Violence Task Force, says Statesville’s new investigators will be an effective addition to the work of the task force, which has distributed more than 6,000 resource guides written in English and Spanish throughout the county.
Despite these efforts, domestic violence remains a major problem throughout the region. In a report prepared by the city, police officials describe it as the No.1 reported violent crime in Statesville in 2014. During the past year, more than 400 cases were screened, and 160 required more extensive investigation. Among those were 116 cases where children were present, 132 cases where victims had visible injuries and 20 where victims were subjected to violations of domestic violence orders of protection.
Dave Vieser is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.