Gov. Robert Bentley has awarded two grants to support a new law enforcement unit dedicated to obtaining justice for domestic violence victims in Lauderdale County.The two grants, totaling $79,461, were awarded to the 11th circuit district attorney’s office to form the Lauderdale County Domestic Violence Unit which will investigate and prosecute domestic violence cases. The unit is a joint venture of the district attorney’s office, Sheriff’s Office, District, Family and Florence Municipal courts, Florence Police Department, and Safeplace, a shelter for domestic violence victims.
“Victims of domestic violence need support and deserve justice for the crimes committed against them,” Bentley said. “The officials and organizations that established this unit are dedicated to reducing domestic violence and ensuring that those who have been victimized receive the proper care.”
The unit will include a full-time domestic-violence investigator from the Florence Police Department and an assistant district attorney.
The unit’s Hope Card Program will help first responders identify abuse victims after a protection from abuse order has been issued. Once a protection order is entered, a victim may apply at the Sheriff’s Office for the card which can be printed while they wait. The cards make it unnecessary for victims to carry around the protection order, which can be easily stolen or destroyed by abusers, according to unit officials.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants from funds made available to the state by the U.S. Department of Justice. Matching funds of $26,487 will supplement the grants.
Bentley notified District Attorney Chris Connolly that the grants had been approved.