Grant to hire domestic violence, child & elder abuse investigators

posted by Alexis Simmons, Reporter/MMJ - 

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) -

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office will hire two new investigators that are expected to begin next month.

The sheriff's office was awarded two South Carolina Department of Public Safety Justice Assistance grants to pay for an investigator to focus on domestic violence cases and another to focus on child and elder abuse cases.

Sheriff Duane Lewis says they receive a high volume of calls for domestic violence incidents and they have seen a rise is those types of cases with the rising population.

Lewis says data from 2012 shows that Berkeley County was ranked ninth in the state for the number of domestic violence victims.

He says the goal is to provide victims with a stronger voice.

"We wanted someone that could spend 100 percent of the time on these domestic violence cases," Lewis said.

It's about minimizing trauma and helping victims get through the court system.

The new investigator will assist victims with counseling resources for them and their children.

"It's more than just a deputy that's going to go out an arrest people, it's about the victims and making sure they have a fair shake in the courtroom," Lewis said.

Executive Director of My Sister's House,Tosha,Connors says they are excited about this new step.

My Sister's House provides resources in the Tri-County area and educates women on how to break the cycle of domestic violence.

"I think women need to know that there are people in law enforcement who are going to be advocating for them, focusing on them, trying to help them and sometimes they just don't know what's available," Connors said.

The nonprofit also provide shelter for women and children.

Connors says they get thousands of calls on their hotline every year.

"I think one of the things we hear from women the most is not feeling like they have a dedicated person so that's where our victim's advocates really come in and try to advocate on their behalf and keep those lines of communication open whether it's with the police or other victims advocates, the faith based community or other nonprofits," Connors said.

Lewis says Berkeley County Council approved the new positions so that they were able to accept the grant.

The sheriff's office received two grants that each total $98,112. They will receive that money each year over the next three years.

Law enforcement will also plan to educate the public about identifying elder abuse, child abuse and domestic violence.

The sheriff's office will continue to fund the investigators if the grant is not renewed.

If you'd like to reach My Sister's House they have a 24-hour hotline at 843-744-3242.

They also another hotline at 1-800-273- HOPE for resources for those who may not live in the area.

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