JOLIET – Will County Executive Larry Walsh and Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow reported Tuesday Will County has been awarded a $750,000 federal grant that will help local police and prosecutors protect and assist victims of domestic violence.
The federal grant, which was written by Glasgow and applied for through County Executive Walsh’s office, was awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.
The two-year grant will fund the Victim Independence Program (VIP)/Coordinated Community Response Team. The grant will enable Glasgow to hire an investigator, prosecutor and victim’s advocate, all of whom will focus exclusively on encouraging arrest policies and enforcing orders of protection through this program.
The grant also will provide funding for the Will County Circuit Court to hire another professional to draft emergency orders of protection on behalf of the victims of domestic abuse.
In addition, the funding will enable Lamb’s Fold, a long-term shelter for women, and Groundwork, an emergency shelter for women, to hire on-site victim advocates who will serve the needs of their abused clients.
The county executive also will use grant funding to hire a coordinator to supervise the implementation of the program, the filing of all financial reports and the compilation of statistical data for the Office on Violence Against Women.
“I created the Victim Independence Program in 1999 to empower the victims of domestic violence to have the confidence to cooperate with law enforcement throughout the prosecution of their cases. This grant is an affirmation by the federal government of the innovative potential of the Victim Independence Program,” Glasgow said. “Domestic violence charges are the most difficult to prosecute because the victims live under the specter of emotional, financial and physical intimidation while their cases are pending. Through this grant, we will create a comprehensive support network that will empower victims to follow through with prosecution.”
Walsh immediately recognized the importance of this funding and agreed early this year to coordinate the grant-writing application process through the county executive’s office.
“I am going to recruit a grant coordinator who has the knowledge, experience and sensitivity to shepherd this grant over the next two years. We will work closely with State’s Attorney Glasgow, local law enforcement and social service agencies to coordinate the necessary services to the women of Will County who fall victim to domestic abuse,” Walsh said. “This grant provides the money necessary to achieve that level of cooperation.”
“My hat goes off to County Executive Walsh for his vision in recognizing the critical need for this grant and immediately authorizing me to submit this grant application under his signature,” Glasgow said. “It is this spirit of cooperation that will guarantee the success of this most vital project.”
Domestic violence affects more than 32 million Americans. The federal government reports that approximately 1,300 people are killed by their abusers each year. Nationally, an estimated 70 percent of domestic violence victims do not show up to court when their abusers go to trial, forcing prosecutors to drop the charges.
Sadly, on the same day the grant was awarded (Tuesday, Aug. 29), local newspapers reported the tragic death of a Joliet woman who allegedly was shot by her estranged husband the previous day. The man reportedly then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.
The victim did not appear in court on June 20 when her husband was to be tried on domestic battery charges. Prosecutors made a motion to continue based upon the absence of their key witness. The motion, however, was denied by the court and the case was dismissed.
Earlier this month, the woman filed for an emergency order of protection against the man. However, she left key sections of the order blank, including information that would have enabled police to locate her estranged husband and serve the order.
“This tragedy illustrates the complications police, prosecutors, victim advocates and judges face while handling these extremely difficult and emotional cases,” the state’s attorney said. “The traditional methods of law enforcement do not work with domestic violence prosecutions, and we must strive to implement new initiatives like VIP in order to empower victims and successfully break the cycle of violence.”
Grant funding will help to break that cycle. The federal grant also will provide money for:
- On-site training and education at local police departments for officers who handle domestic violence calls.
- Overtime for targeted police departments to more aggressively pursue abusers who violate orders of protection.
- Digital cameras for 35 police departments to document injuries caused by domestic abusers for use in securing orders of protection and for evidence at trials.