The Phoenix City Council accepted two grants Wednesday that will make help for victims of domestic abuse a bigger priority in the city.
The first grant of $173,333 from the 2011 Recovery Act STOP Violence Against Women Formula will be used to pay the salary, benefits and materials for a new city prosecutor position for one year. This prosecutor's main focus will be on domestic abuse cases.
The second grant of $27,200 from the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission will fund a part-time victim advocate for one year who will assist victims of misdemeanor crimes.
City Councilman Sal DiCiccio of Ahwatukee said this is something he has been pushing since the early-'90s and he was pleased to see many people in the city work together to make it happen.
"In the '90s there was a case that caught my attention," DiCiccio said. "It was a woman that was turned away from a shelter because they didn't have any room and she was later murdered. I read about it in the morning newspaper and literally by that afternoon had talked to the county, talked to the state. The city of Phoenix within 30 days started making a strong commitment. We diverted close to $2 million in funding for shelters to expand. There was an outpouring of support from the community. Those crimes never go away. The public just shifts to other areas."
DiCiccio said there is an education component to this as well. He has also been in discussion with Councilman Bill Gates. The two city council members have plans to meet with the man who wrote Arizona's victim's bill of rights to see what the city can do to better ensure that those rights are being preserved.
"We actually have some pretty strong rights for individuals and victims," DiCiccio said. "I want to make sure we are following through with that. The down side is we are the arresting body, then we turn it over to the county. We have multi-layers of government that sometimes the victim can get lost in. We're going to see what the city can do so that it's seamless for the victim. They've already gone through so much pain."
Dr. Marlo J. Archer is a licensed psychologist and a member of the Ahwatukee Foothills Behavioral Health Network. She believes the city trying to educate the public about domestic abuse is always a good thing.
"I think it's a great idea for any city to try and educate residents about domestic violence," Archer said. "I think especially in Ahwatukee because it's very affluent and there's lots of professionals they may sometimes get the idea that they're immune to things that happen in more poverty stricken communities. Treatment of domestic violence is always helped along by victims feeling like they have somewhere to go and someone they can tell."
The grants will go to the Victim Services Unit within the City Prosecutor's Office. For more information, visit phoenix.gov/VICTIMS or call (602) 261-8192.
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