DCF Press Release


State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist
Governor

Robert A. Butterworth
Secretary


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Sandi Copes
April 17, 2008 850.245.0150

ATTORNEY GENERAL McCOLLUM ANNOUNCES EXPANSION OF PILOT PROGRAM TO COMBAT RISING DOMESTIC ABUSE FATALITIES
- INVEST program targets high-risk victims in five counties -

TALLAHASSEE, FL- Attorney General Bill McCollum today formally announced the expansion of a successful pilot program to address rising numbers of fatal domestic violence cases in Florida. The INVEST program, which stands for Intimate Violence Enhanced Services Team, provides intensive prevention and protection services to domestic abuse victims identified as at high risk for fatal attacks in Alachua, Duval, Orange, St. Lucie and Seminole Counties. These five counties had the highest rates of domestic violence fatalities in the state in 2006.

“I am deeply disturbed by the dramatically increasing numbers of domestic violence-related deaths in Florida over the past few years, and it is my sincere hope that this focused effort will save lives,” said Attorney General McCollum. “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week provides an appropriate opportunity to highlight this issue, and I am grateful to our partners in the law enforcement and domestic violence advocacy communities who have committed their resources to reversing this deadly trend.”

In 2007, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement received reports of 214 cases of domestic violence-related murder or manslaughter, up 17 percent from the 183 cases reported the previous year. Co-sponsored by the Office of Attorney General and the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence and funded by the Victim of Crimes Act through the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Children of Families, INVEST was modeled after a successful program to address this crisis in the City of Jacksonville. The Duval program has been responsible for a 30 percent decrease in the first year in domestic violence homicides and an average 46 percent decrease over seven years.

“I commend Attorney General McCollum for assuming a proactive role to reduce domestic violence homicides in Florida,” said Tiffany Carr, Executive Director of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “The INVEST program will serve as a model for the rest of the country as other states work to combat domestic violence.”

In each of the participating counties, INVEST’s coordinated response teams comprised of law enforcement, domestic violence advocates and other community partners are reviewing and identifying cases with high likelihood of fatalities. The teams make contact with the victims; refer the victim and any children to safe and useful services; and make personal contact with abusers to ensure the abuser knows he’s being closely monitored by law enforcement.

Since its expansion earlier this year, the INVEST program has reviewed hundreds of domestic violence cases and has provided services to over 145 survivors of domestic violence who are at risk for being murdered by their batterer. More than 650 hours of counseling and 45 relocation services have already been provided.

Five certified domestic violence centers have been funded as the lead agencies for INVEST teams: Hubbard House in Duval County, Peaceful Paths in Alachua County, Harbor House in Orange County, Safehouse of Seminole in Seminole County, and SafeSpace in St. Lucie County.

Assistance and referrals for victims of domestic abuse can be reached 24 hours a day statewide by calling the toll-free Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-500-1119.


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