AIKEN CITY, S.C. (WJBF) – The state currently ranks fifth in the nation for violence against women, however locally initiatives are being implemented to tackle the problem.
The City of Aiken has been awarded a grant to hire a person whose job is solely dedicated to investigating domestic violence cases.
This all started through the Safe Communities Initiative when officials realized that many offenders have histories of domestic violence in their families.
On Monday night, Aiken City Council will be voting to accept that award to hire a Domestic Violence Investigator.
There’s still a long way to go toward reforming South Carolina’s troubling reputation, as one of the nation’s top 10 states for deadly violence against women.
In 2013, the state ranked 1st in the nation for Domestic Violence cases, dropping to 5th in 2014.
While lawmakers push for stronger sentences against repeat offenders, local governments are taking matters into their own hands.
To reduce the number of cases in Aiken, the Department of Public Safety wasted no time applying for a grant, to hire a full-time Domestic Violence Investigator.
“I think this person will help us figure out which ones are really perpetrators and which ones we can just maybe give some counseling to, and they can change their actions.” Executive Director of the Cumbee Center Susan Selden told WJBF NewsChannel 6.
The Cumbee Center in Aiken assists domestic abuse victims.
Selden says when the city fills this position, she hopes its someone with specialized training that will help law enforcement officers write detailed incident reports. She says the details are crucial in ensuring offenders stay behind bars.
“They’ll have a better understanding of how victims react,” Selden said.
If passed by city council, the 3-year grant pays for the salary of the Domestic Violence Investigator, which totals nearly $88,841 dollars a year.
Since the grant is a 90 -10 percent match, the position would end up costing tax payers $9,871 dollars.
However, Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon says it’s a forward-thinking solution that citizens would greatly benefit from.
“The victims, it will kind of be more of an advocate for them,” Osbon told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “To make sure they are walked through the process and receive the help that they need.”
The Mayor says he doesn’t see council not passing the grant.
Under the South Carolina Justice Assistance Grant Program requirements, the city must hire someone by June of 2017 in order to receive funding.
Mayor Osbon says after the 3-year grant ends, he believes the city will fund the position for years to come.
Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story.