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Domestic violence unit gets $91,136

By By Janet Little Cooper
Domestic violence cases in Escambia County stand a better chance of being prosecuted these days.
Alabama Governor Bob Riley recently announced a $91,136 grant awarded to the specialized Domestic Violence Crime Unit by Gov. Bob Riley.
The domestic violence unit employs one specially trained prosecutor and two investigators in charge of domestic violence cases in the county.
"Our prosecutor is Reo Kirkland and our investigator is Shaun Golden," Renee Cain, victims advocate, said. "We lost our other investigator to the recent election and are currently looking for another. Annie Salter works as our administrative assistant and I am the court/victim advocate for the department."
With more and more cases of domestic violence reported in Escambia County, the funds from the grant are a much needed portion of the budget.
"We apply for this grant each year," Cain said. "We could always use more but we are especially appreciative of what we get."
Cain, who completed four years of school training for the advocate position, says that the department sees about 68 victims of abuse a month and out of those she appears with at least 25 a month.
"This money will aide many victims of domestic violence in relocation for safety and for prosecution in cases," Cain said. "It is something the victims really need. We would love to have a civil attorney to go to court in cases of divorce. It would be great to have our own personal attorney that would represent the victims. That would make the unit complete."
The unit also provides training for law enforcement officers, investigators, probation officers and court personnel regarding domestic violence laws, prosecution policies and proper initial response to domestic violence situations.
"Victims of domestic violence deserve support, protection and justice for the despicable acts committed against them," Riley said. "I commend the unit's efforts to put offenders behind bars and reach out to victims."
Riley awarded the grant from funds made available to Alabama by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs will administer the award. Riley notified David Stokes, chairman of the Escambia County Commission, that the grant had been approved.
Matching funds of $30,378 will supplement the award from several different county agencies.