Police to hire domestic violence specialist

Grant for $147,543 will fund a crisis intervention program

Posted: Friday, April 10, 2009

Federal stimulus money has been allocated to help the Juneau Police Department address domestic violence at the local level.

The Juneau Assembly passed a resolution at its regular Monday meeting to accept an Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant for $147,543 to fund a police crisis intervention program for domestic violence and family-related crimes.

The four-year grant is provided through the U.S. Department of Justice under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

JPD has proposed to use the funds to hire a crisis intervention specialist that would offer "immediate response services and support toward problem resolution in the areas of domestic violence and sexual violence."

The position also would serve as an outreach liaison to help educate people about domestic violence, a significant issue in Juneau, JPD spokesman Sgt. Dave Campbell said.

Domestic violence calls are a frequent listing in the department's daily bulletin released on its Web site each day.

"Domestic violence issues, they're emotional issues," Campbell said. "Sometimes the issue is relatively quick and cut-and-dry and it doesn't take that long, but sometimes it's much longer. ... A lot of the sexual abuse cases we get have a domestic relationship to them. We definitely deal with the issue quite a bit."

Many statutes are covered under the domestic violence umbrella, which can include assault, sexual abuse, homicide, kidnapping, criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, harassment and more, Campbell said.

"There are lots of laws that can be applied and a lot of people that can fall under it, so it is something that is rather broad and far reaching," he said.

Domestic violence is also a problem in Juneau's surrounding communities, Campbell said.

According to a letter sent by Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, to the Department of Justice in support of the grant, Alaska is one of the top five states for forcible rape. Alaska's rate is 76 per 100,000 people, compared to the national average of 32.7, according to FBI statistics cited by Muñoz.

The resolution passed by the Assembly was a requirement of the grant application process.

Saralyn Tabachnick, executive director of Juneau's Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies (AWARE), a nonprofit that assists victims of domestic violence, said her organization had unsuccessfully worked with JPD in the past to secure grant funding to create a similar position.

"This is something we have talked about ... for the past couple of years," she said. "This is exciting for the community. I think this will help victims of domestic violence and to educate the community."

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.

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