Preventing Domestic Violence
Council President Michael C. Mentel and Councilmembers Andrew J. Ginther and Hearcel F. Craig have been strong advocates for programs that aim to prevent domestic violence, or which give assistance to domestic violence victims. Annually, Columbus police respond to approximately 23,000 domestic violence calls and make approximately 5,000 domestic violence arrests. Nearly one-third of the Muni Court's arraignment docket is spent on crimes of domestic violence. Mentel and Ginther sponsored an amendment to the 2007 City budget to add $250,000 for the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence. The purpose of the organization is to improve the way individuals and institutions think about and respond to family violence. The Coalition's Board has four priorities: judicial reform, training and education, enhancement of victim services, and public awareness. The 2007 funding will help sustain civil legal services that are provided to victims of domestic violence by the Capital University Family Advocacy Clinic.
In 2008, Councilmember Criag held a series of public meetings designed to educate and inform the public where victims of domestic violence can turn for help. The hearings led to the passage of legislation that will provide the City Attorney's office with powerful resources to help reduce this crime in our community.
As the current chair of the Judiciary and Court Adminstration Committee, Eileen Y. Paley has sponsored legislation to help witnesses and victims of domestic violence through legal assistance, counseling, referrals, and connection to other agencies and community resources.
Other Council actions to support efforts in this area include:
- Making use of federal Homeland Security grants totaling $189,608 in 2007 to provide victims and witnesses counseling and agency referral services. The programs funded with these grant dollars—the Cyber Crime Investigator and DV Victim Advocate programs within the City Attorney’s Domestic Violence unit. A $38,000 City match was included in legislation. In 2006, 716 victims received assistance through these programs.
- In 2005 and 2006, Council allocated a combined $172,000 for People and Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), a non-profit agency helping to strengthen linkages between the animal welfare and family violence communities. The program provides a safe haven for the pets of domestic violence victims, thereby making it easier for an individual to decide to leave an abusive situation.
- Since 2002 Council has provided the Capital Area Humane Society $25,000 annually to support animal abuse investigations.