Clark County receives $675K to improve domestic violence response

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office is one of six organizations to receive a $675,000 grant as part of a national initiative to strengthen law enforcement’s response to sexual and domestic violence.

The competitive grant was awarded in January by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

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In 2016, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office responded to 143 domestic assault calls. That number dropped to 132 last year.

The grant will provide the sheriff’s office with resources, support, training and technical assistance to build capacity “and raise awareness of the existence and impact of gender bias on responses to domestic and sexual violence,” according to a news release.

Additional resources and tools are needed, Clark County Sheriff’s Office Grants and Programs Manager Wendy Holt said.

“Biases and outdated stereotypes, they really undermine the efforts to you know of all law enforcement agencies and service providers to end violence,” she said.

The Clark County sheriff’s office will work with several national agencies, including the chiefs association, U.S. Department of Justice, the Office for Victims of Crime and the National Crime Victim Law Institute “to identify aspects of agency culture that may create or sustain biases, develop sustainable strategies to address and eliminate the impact of bias on the response to and investigation of sexual and domestic violence, and implement trauma-informed, victim-centered procedures agency-wide,” the release says.

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The other communities chosen include Shawnee, Okla.; Denton, Texas; Iowa City, Iowa; Nampa, Idaho; and Vancouver, Wash.

The current practices leave some victims not wanting to disclose abuse and not participating in criminal investigations, Holt said.

The new program will help women, children and men, she said.

“They will come and help us develop a strategic plan and to make sure we are doing the best job that we can to hold the offenders accountable and help victims,” she said. “It’s just going to help us enhance services and the response that … we provide to the community.”

The grant program will partner the law enforcement agency with Project Woman, a local organization that helps people affected by domestic and sexual violence. The Clark County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Program will also be part of the new program as well.

“Thirty percent of all violence against women or domestic violence and sexual assault cases are never reported to law enforcement,” said Laura Baxter, the Executive Director of Project Woman.

That’s part of why having a victim services provider like Project Woman is so important, Baxter said.

“The victim can receive support, can receive counseling and advocacy,” she said.

On average, the organization receives 500 to 600 calls a month about domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.

“It could be a victim, a family member calling to get information so they can make a referral for somebody that they know,” she said.

This grant will hopefully help by providing resources victims in Clark County need, Holt said. The test markets around the country will create new ways for law enforcement and agencies to respond and reduce the number of calls about sexual violence.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call the 24-crisis line at 1-800-634-9893.

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