A recent grant bestowed upon the Columbia Police Department’s Domestic Violence Enforcement Unit will allow it to hire a civilian assistant to give unit personnel more time to work with victims.
Detective Bob Dochler, the CPD accreditation manager, submitted the request for the grant in late 2013. The grant came from the Missouri Department of Public Safety through the Services Training Officers Prosecutors Violence Against Women Act grant program.
The unit’s detectives’ salaries are funded through a combination of STOP VAWA grants and city matching funds. The unit received more than $19,650 in additional STOP VAWA funds to hire an assistant for 2014 and 2015.
“We have asked for a civilian assistant for this year simply because we have such a problem with domestic violence in our community and such a high caseload,” Dochler said. “We want to have time to make more in-person contact with victims.”
The unit consists of detectives, prosecutors, crime victim specialists, victim advocates and a counselor. Together, the unit addresses the police’s domestic violence caseload.
Detective Mike Youtsey works closely with Detective Randy Nichols to investigate domestic violence cases.
“(We) will investigate anywhere from 850 to 1,000 cases each year,” Youtsey said. “I think it gives us a good reason to have somebody help with the clerical work.”
Youtsey said he and Nichols came up with the job description for the assistant. The assistant will research suspects, compile evidence, work as a liaison with the city prosecutor’s office and help victims give feedback on the unit’s work, among other duties.
“The assistant will help us with a lot of the clerical work that kind of takes our time away from going out on the street and making contact with our victims and witnesses,” Youtsey said.
Dochler said the unit places high importance on in-person contact with victims and witnesses of domestic violence.
“The worst-case scenario is when the contact is by phone,” Dochler said. “We are constantly looking for ways to make more face-to-face contact.”
Youtsey said the unit had no trouble getting the grant, and it was awarded the money after only one application.
“We were very grateful to get it on the first try,” he said.
Youtsey said he does not expect difficulty in finding applicants for the new position.