The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office has accumulated $293,602 in grants in recent weeks, enabling the agency to further its initiative to against domestic violence, help victims of crimes, buy helmets for SWAT members, and provide saddle blankets to the Mounted Posse volunteers.
More than two-thirds of the money was secured for the domestic violence program, a signature initiative Sheriff Rick Staly launched soon after assuming office to heighten awareness of the issue and find more effective ways to address it, both through more sustained investigations and follow-up programs for abusers to reduce recidivism.
In 2017, the sheriff’s office received a grant through the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence to pay for a dedicated detective and a crime analyst, along with training and community education, thus buttressing investigations of domestic violence. The agency reapplied for the two-year grant for 2019. The coalition awarded it $204,158 to continue the work.
The team dedicated to working on domestic violence cases means that stronger cases reach the State Attorney’s Office–which must decide whether to prosecute a case or drop the charges–and more individuals are re-arrested when they violate the conditions of their pretrial release. The numbers tell the story, with proportional and net increases in charges filed by the State Attorney. In 2017, the State Attorney filed 17 cases of violations of injunctions or violations of pre-trial release conditions, dropping 7. In other words it filed in 71 percent of cases the sheriff’s office submitted. In 2018, with the domestic-violence team at work, the State Attorney filed 70 violation cases and dropped 11, for an 86 percent filing ratio.
Meanwhile, arrests on domestic charges have continued to pile up: out of 29 arrests over the past weekend, nine involved charges of domestic violence.
One of the initiative’s components was the establishment of a volunteer domestic violence task force whose members have been focused on varied aspect of the problem and recommending innovations. The group next meets on April 10 at 10 a.m. at the Flagler County courthouse in Bunnell.
The sheriff’s office was also re-awarded a Victims of Crime Act grant worth $83,444 from the Office of the Attorney General, Bureau of Advocacy and Grants Management. These funds, which had also been awarded in 2017, will continue to cover the salaries of two full-time victim advocates and 75 percent of a third advocate’s salary. The grant also covers all training related expenses for the three advocates.
The Volusia 100 Club, a 13-year-old non-profit that helps the survivors of fallen first responders, awarded the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office a $4,000 grant to buy new ballistic helmets, providing necessary protection for SWAT team deputies. And the Weyerhaeuser Corporation awarded the agency $2,000 to buy horse saddle blankets for posse members who use their personal horses for Sheriff’s Office duties such as patrol of parking lots, search and rescue, parades, training sessions and various community events.
“Members of our agency are always looking at grant opportunities so that we can continue to serve the community in the best and least expensive ways possible,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “These grants will make a huge difference in our ability to respond to any situation with the best resources and equipment available to us. Thank you to all of the companies, citizen groups and other agencies that awarded the grants for their support of FCSO and our community.” Grants offset taxpayer costs, helping to control the tax burden on residents and businesses.
When “Grants” are obtained for existing positions that already have staff and funding covered by the current budget, what happens to the money that was in the current budget? Is money turned back to the County or does the saving just become “Slush” money for the Sheriffs Department? Seems that any Grant dollars offset current funding from the County and therefore the original budget should reflect that savings..