WASHINGTON (WCIV) -- North Charleston was selected along with 11 other cities across the country to receive federal grants in an effort to curb domestic violence homicides, Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday.
According to documents filed by North Charleston, South Carolina ranks second in the nation in number of women killed by men in single-victim homicides.
The Department of Justice will award $2.3 million to cities across the country as part of the new Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative. In 2011, there were 52 people murdered by a household member, the report states.
"In 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available through the State, Charleston County had the second highest number of CDV victims in South Carolina, a total of 2,595 victims," the report reads.
North Charleston "in particular has reached epidemic proportions in the incidence of domestic violence."
The city has not yet learned how much money it will receive from the Department of Justice, but did say the bulk of it would go to the Medical University of South Carolina and its researchers. Some of the money will partially fund the officer who will be working on the year-long study.
The report singled out North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey as someone who has worked with the community to prevent criminal domestic violence, citing the Tri-County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council.
The council is made up of seven law enforcement agencies, a nonprofit domestic abuse shelter called My Sister's House, and a host of other organizations, businesses and professionals.
The report cites the city's weaknesses in combating domestic violence, including the need for more coordination between agencies and departments, the need for a domestic violence high risk team, better community resources and more extensive training for law enforcement and health professionals.
About the Federal Domestic Violence Prevention Program
The DVHP Initiative, created by the Justice Department's Office on Violence Against Women, helps state and local agencies reduce domestic violence homicides by effectively identifying potential victims and monitoring high-risk offenders.
It is modeled after a program launched in Massachusetts and Maryland, where agencies at the state and local levels in law enforcement, the courts and mental health work together to reduce the rate of homicides due to domestic violence.
"Every single day in America, three women die at the hands of their boyfriend, or their husband, or their ex-husband. Many of these women have been threatened or severely abused in the past. We know what risk factors put someone in greater danger of being killed by the person they love – and that also means we have the opportunity to step in and try to prevent these murders. That's why these grants are so important. They'll help stop violence before it turns deadly," said Vice President Biden.
Research shows that women whose partner threatens them with a gun or other weapon are 20 times more likely to subsequently be murdered than other abused women. Moreover, children, coworkers, neighbors and police officers are also killed as a result of domestic violence.
"Domestic violence is a devastating crime – and it claims far too many lives each and every day," said Attorney General Holder. "With today's grant announcement, we are strengthening our ability to fight back more effectively – and aggressively – than ever before. And we're supporting the kinds of evidence-based domestic violence homicide prevention models that will allow us to reliably predict potentially lethal behavior, take steps to stop the escalation of violence and save lives."
From 2009 to 2012, 40 percent of mass shootings — those with four or more victims killed — started with the shooter targeting their girlfriend, wife or ex-wife, the White House said.
Since passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent.
The demonstration sites, each receiving one-year awards ranging from $100,658 to $200,000, are: Contra Costa County, CA; Miami-Dade County, FL; Palm Beach County, FL; Rockdale County, GA; Winnebago County, IL; City of Boston, MA; Borough of Brooklyn, NY; Westchester County, NY; Pitt County, NC; Cuyahoga County, OH; City of North Charleston, SC; and City of Rutland, VT.
After the 12-month assessment phase, up to six of the demonstration sites will be selected to continue a three-year implementation phase.
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