Chatham County DA's Office increasing efforts to fight domestic violence

Chatham County DA's Office increasing efforts to fight domestic violence
Updated: Apr. 20, 2018 at 5:28 PM EDT
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CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - The Chatham County District Attorney's Office is increasing efforts to better fight domestic violence cases.

That state has awarded the DA's office with a grant that will hopefully help prosecutors.

The grant is $50,000 for three years. District Attorney Meg Heap says she's working on changing some staff and duties to fill the position for the prosecutor who will solely focus on domestic violence cases.

"We had seen over the past year-and-a-half by the time we were getting to court the defendant and/or his investigator had already made contact with the victim," Heap said.

With the help of a state-awarded grant, prosecutors will have more resources that would allow them to make contact with victims sooner, building trust and ultimately a stronger case.

"Our hope is between getting better evidence, doing training with local law enforcement, working with SAFE Shelter to provide services that the victim needs," Heap said.

Executive Director of the SAFE Shelter, Cheryl Branch, says this move brings the entire process full circle.

"You have to have a network, an effective network of victim service providers if you want to give victims comprehensive services," Branch said.

This new position and initiative is something Savannah Police agree will ensure results.

"A lot of what the officers document on the scene is going to be the very things that the investigators and District Attorney's office is going to use to hopefully prevent further violence," said Lt. Hiram Rivera, Savannah Police Department. "Making an arrest is just the tip of the iceberg. We want to make sure we've captured the historical domestic patterns, as well as what is happening at the time we've arrested the individual, to hopefully prevent this person coming back to the family and continually some additional stressors and problems."

ADA Jenny Parker is a seasoned prosecutor, specializing in child criminal cases. She's expected to switch to a domestic violence case load sometime in June.

We''re still working to find out how many cases police investigated last year.

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