City gets money to fight domestic violence
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | March 14,2013
Rutland City on Wednesday was awarded $200,000 in federal funds intended to reduce the chances of killings related to domestic violence.
Rutland is one of just 12 cities and counties across the nation slated to receive funding under a new Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative being overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The goal of the program is to reduce the number of domestic violence killings by identifying potential victims and monitoring high-risk offenders, federal officials said in a statement Wednesday.
Why Rutland was among the dozen areas of the country to receive part of the $2.3 million in funding wasn’t made clear in the statement and a call to the Justice Department wasn’t returned Wednesday.
But police and local and state domestic violence prevention advocates believe the award has more to do with an ongoing community intervention initiative than with the level of domestic violence cases in Rutland.
No homicide related to domestic violence has been committed in the city for more than a decade. Domestic violence crimes and complaints are not reported at a higher rate in Rutland than in other communities, according to Karen Tronsgard-Scott, executive director of the Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence.
“It’s about the same (in Rutland) as in other parts of the state,” she said.
What might have made Rutland stand out to federal officials is the collaborative effort its leaders have been making to coordinate the effort of prosecutors, police, drug treatment experts, social workers and domestic victim advocates to solve some of the city’s drug addiction issues and other societal ills.
Rutland Police Chief James Baker said his department is already working with a domestic violence prevention workers to find long-term solutions to what are often recurring and escalating police complaints.
The Rutland County Women’s Network and Shelter worker assigned to the department is now working with police only one day a week. Baker said the federal funds would allow that person to work with police more often.
“We want to look at more advocacy in our operations,” Baker said. “Our officers don’t have time to delve into the issues enough to solve them or prevent higher levels of violence. The data out there shows that the sooner you intervene, the better off the results as far as preventing long-term violence and homicides.”
Marianne Kennedy, executive director of the women’s shelter, agreed with the chief’s assessment.
“This kind of intervention really does create more successes and better outcomes,” she said.