Grant Gives DA Two New Assistants
Battered spouses and beaten children will find more assistance available from the Moore County district attorney's office starting this month.
District Attorney Maureen Krueger is getting help for them by way of a grant she received for domestic violence and sexual assault prosecution. Krueger asked the county to apply for this grant on her behalf through the N.C. Governor's Crime Commission.
The county commissioners unanimously supported Krueger's grant application. The funds will allow the attorney's office to establish two new positions.
One will be a victim/witness legal assistant who can concentrate on victims of domestic violence and sexual assaults. The second slot -- perhaps even more important -- will mean Krueger will add a second investigator to her staff, one who can focus exclusively on crimes of this nature.
A main goal of this grant is to make it possible for investigator, legal assistant and attorneys to stay in contact with victims throughout the course of criminal prosecution.
"Victims of domestic violence can often be difficult to locate after the criminal charges have been instituted," Krueger said. "Sometimes the victim has moved away from the abusive relationship, but sometimes the victim remains in a relationship with the offender even after criminal proceedings have been instituted."
Either scenario can make it difficult for her office to maintain contact with the victim throughout the course of the prosecution. By reaching out to victims at an early stage in the proceeding, the district attorney's office hopes to make it easier for victims to take part in the prosecution of their case.
The award comes at an important time of the year, according to Krueger.
"October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month," Krueger said. "We will be holding our Take Back the Night celebration again this year on our county court steps on Oct. 27."
That annual event honors the courage of domestic violence survivors and mourns those who lost their lives.
The grant is funded by the federal Justice Assistant Grant Program known as Byrne-JAG, and through in-kind contributions provided by Moore County. The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program helps states and local governments support a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime and to improve the criminal justice system. It provides a single funding mechanism that simplifies the administration process for grantees.
In November 2004, Congress consolidated two long-standing local law-enforcement grant programs: the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Grant Program and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant Program (LLEBG). The new program, the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG), is administered at the federal level through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) within the Justice Department.
It works as a partnership among federal, state, and local governments to create safer communities. BJA awards grants to states and local governments to improve the criminal justice system. The program places an emphasis on breaking the cycle of substance abuse and crime, combatting violence, holding offenders accountable, enhancing law enforcement initiatives and supporting advancements in adjudication.
Fallen Officer Honored
The goal of the program is to leverage state, federal -- and, in this case, also county -- funds to increase the effectiveness of collaborative enforcement efforts to address more successfully domestic violence and sexual assaults across Moore County.
The procedure for allocating JAG funds uses a formula based on population and crime statistics, combined with a minimum allocation to make sure each state and territory receives its fair share. Under the former program, funds were distributed 60/40 between state and local recipients. This distribution continues under JAG.
The program is named for a New York police officer who died while on detail protecting a witness who had agreed to testify in court against local drug dealers.
Officer Edward R. Byrne was in his patrol car outside the witness's home around 3:30 a.m. when two armed gunmen crept up to his car from both sides. One knocked on the passenger-side window to distract Byrne just as the second man ran up to his window and opened fire. Byrne was shot five times in the head.
Both gunmen, along with two lookouts, fled. Byrne was rushed to Mary Immaculate Hospital where he died of his wounds. He was only 22 years old.
The U.S. Department of Justice named its Justice Assistance Grant Program after Byrne to honor the fallen officer by providing funds to help victims and witnesses like those for whom he gave his life.
Contact John Chappell by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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