Agencies awarded grant to help aid responses to domestic violence and sexual assaults

PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. - The Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women was granted a total of $747,144 to several agencies within Pima County.

The money will go toward improving Pima County's response to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and to the stalking program. The specific recipients are the Tuscon Police Department, Tucson Medical Center and CODAC.

This money is to help improve how domestic violence and sexual assault cases are handled, as well as improving resources available for victims during all phases of an investigation.

"It really is about a systemic response to domestic violence, to make sure that domestic violence victims are getting all of their needs met, and that when wherever they show up in that system, that they're getting a consistent response," said Ed Mercurio-Sakwa, the CEO of Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse.

About $497,000 of that will specifically be used for Tucson Police to have two Spanish speaking detectives, one each for the domestic violence unit and the sexual assault unit. It will also go toward a specialized training for 10 sex assault nurse examiners from Tucson Medical Center in strangulation protocols.

"We didn't have sufficient funding for forensic nurse examiners for strangulation and sexual assault exams, and we didn't have enough money for training for them," said Amelia Cramer, Chief Deputy Pima County Attorney.

With the many different groups involved in improving the all-around response to domestic violence, everyone is pleased for the availability of more resources.

"When any part of the system is bolstered by additional resources and capacity, it helps all of us," said Mercurio-Sakwa.

"Extremely excited to have additional resources that we can commit to helping protect the safety of victims of domestic violence and to help hold perpetrators of domestic violence accountable," said Cramer.

Back in February, Pima County was awarded the first $250,000 of this grant to put toward domestic violence risk assessment and to help fund victim advocates from the attorney's office, the domestic violence hotline, and housing for victims.

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