Cuyahoga County’s Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Initiative, which has helped thousands of victims of violence since its inception, has been awarded an $824,800.33 grant from the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. The initiative, led by the County’s Witness Victim Service Center (WVSC), will use the funding to expand services over a three-year period.
Since 2016, WVSC has led a local site for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Initiative, along with local nonprofit Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center (DVCAC) and Cleveland Police. Throughout the course of the project, over 800 Cleveland Police Officers have been trained in the use of a danger assessment tool that is administered at the scene of a domestic violence crime to identify victims of intimate partner violence who are at heightened risk for homicide.
High-risk victims receive specialized services from a WVSC court advocate and a dedicated police detective. Cases resulting in criminal charges are assigned to the High-Risk Domestic Violence Docket at Cleveland Municipal Court. The cases are also reviewed by a high-risk team that includes criminal justice partners from both the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.
With Cleveland having the highest concentration of domestic violence crimes in the County, the initiative was piloted in the City of Cleveland’s Police Districts 1 and 5. With this funding, WVSC will work in partnership with DVCAC to expand the model citywide to Cleveland Districts 2, 3 and 4 and municipal police departments and courts, beginning with several east side suburbs.
The grant funds will also allow WVSC to:
- Employ a high-risk captain who will track high risk cases, provide case management for cases triaged by the high-risk team, maintain a database on warrant enforcement needs, and assist with WVSC's collaborative role within the newly created Domestic Violence Court in the Court of Common Pleas.
- Assist multiple suburban communities in their assessment of domestic violence policies and train them in the use of a danger assessment for law enforcement.
- Support warrant enforcement efforts within the City of Cleveland Division of Police. Many domestic violence warrants pend at the misdemeanor level and represent a significant threat to victim safety. This grant will allow WVSC to support the work of the officers assigned to the Neighborhood Impact and Community Engagement (N.I.C.E.) Unit, which has been assisting with warrant enforcement in high risk cases since 2018.
The Witness Victim Service Center is widely regarded as a leader in innovative domestic violence programming. WVSC provides court-based advocacy for any victim of violent crime whose case is in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas or Cleveland Municipal Court. Victim advocates work tirelessly to ensure victim safety is prioritized, and that victim rights are upheld.
If you are in need of services from the Witness Victim Service Center, please call 216-443-7345.