County gets ADECA grant

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Gov. Robert Bentley has awarded grants totaling $443,450 to support programs that assist domestic violence victims and prosecute offenders in eight south Alabama counties, including Escambia County.

The Escambia County Commission is using a $83,790 grant to continue the efforts of the Domestic Violence Unit, a joint venture of the county Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office. The unit works closely with law enforcement agencies, health care providers and victim service organizations in the county to help increase public awareness of victim’s rights, prosecute domestic violence cases and reduce violent crime against women in Escambia County. Local matching funds of $27,930 will supplement the grant.

Atmore Chief of Police Chuck Brooks said some of the funds will be used for  “tools” such as Tasers his officers can use to better protect themselves, as well as suspects, during altercations.

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“We’re very happy to have these tools for our officers,” Brooks said. “We want to be able to use devices that aren’t lethal and prevents injury to suspects and officers.”

Brooks said the Tasers are also a better choice than alternatives such as pepper spray, which can have adverse effects on officers employing the tool in efforts to apprehend suspects.

“These have been effective tools for a number of years and our officers have to go through training and certification to use them,” he said.

“Domestic violence has a lasting effect on victims, and they deserve professional support for overcoming the trauma as well as advocates to help them pursue justice in the legal system,” Bentley said. “I commend the work of these south Alabama organizations for helping those who need it most and for prosecuting those responsible for abuse so that they can’t cause any more harm.”

Penelope House in Mobile is using a $136,000 grant to continue providing temporary housing to victims in the county who have become homeless due to domestic violence.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is managing the grants from funds made available by the U.S. Department of Justice.

“These local partnerships are key to ensuring those who have suffered from abuse have access to the support services they need to begin the recovery process,” ADECA Director Jim Byard Jr. said.