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Chatham County Adds Staff to Support Victims of Domestic Violence

Post Date:09/14/2017 3:35 PM
In the past few months, Chatham County has provided resources to support victims of domestic violence. The Chatham County Board of Commissioners provided funding as part of the FY 2017-2018 budget.

The county has added several staff positions in two departments to offer several key support services previously provided by a local nonprofit.

District Court Judge Joseph Buckner said, "Family violence victims and their children are some of the most vulnerable in lethal danger and subjected to horrifying emotional trauma on a daily basis. These victims are rarely allowed any feelings of safety and peace. We thank Chatham County for stepping up to assist these families linking these people in need critical court services to provide protection, support and access to justice.”

The Sheriff’s Office houses two positions, one full-time and one part-time Victim Services Coordinator. The county also created a new office, Chatham Family Violence Prevention Services (CFVPS), which includes one full-time and one part-time bilingual Domestic Violence Advocate.

To contact the CFVPS Domestic Violence Advocates, call 919-542-1792 or email them at cfvps@chathamnc.org. To contact a Sheriff’s Office Victim Services Coordinator, call 919-542-2811 or email them directly at lora.rinaldi@chathamsheriff.com or donna.griffith@chathamsheriff.com.

The Sheriff’s Office Victim Services Coordinators support law enforcement and the community by focusing on the rights and needs of crime victims as afforded to them by federal and state laws. They assist victims of all crimes, including domestic violence, as well as provide crisis intervention, protection order guidance, and court date notifications.

CFVPS Domestic Violence Advocates will help clients with various supports, such as accessing community services, assisting with protection order, developing safety plans, and securing transportation or emergency housing.

Even though housed in two different offices, the employees will work closely together to reduce confusion for residents in need, according to Project Director Kit Stanley. “For example, on September 14 they began collaborating to staff a room at the Justice Center in Pittsboro daily from 9 am to noon so that victims can readily access services.”

In addition, the county’s Child Victim Services Coordinator has taken responsibility for teaching the child sexual abuse prevention program and has developed the program in partnership with key staff at the Chatham County Schools.

The county worked with a team of local stakeholders, including court officials, law enforcement, local attorneys, and DSS to decide when and how to provide services.

“These positions allow us to focus more on victims in a system that historically focuses on offenders,” says Sheriff Mike Roberson. “Coordinators and advocates provide a direct contact, liaison, and support system throughout the entire criminal justice process by offering customized services to victims, including court accompaniment and referrals to community agencies when needed. They supplement each other, so teamwork is absolutely essential.”

County Manager Renee Paschal said, “We are very happy to have these important resources in place and will provide them until other viable options are available. I am very proud of the Sheriff’s Office and CFVPS for taking this on and working so well together.”