PORTLAND -- The United States Department of Justice has awarded Cumberland County, Maine, with a three-year grant of nearly $400,000 to strengthen the region’s efforts against domestic violence.
The funds support Cumberland County’s nationally-recognized Violence Intervention Partnership (VIP), which has worked for over twenty years alongside local organizations to coordinate a community response to domestic violence and sexual assault, hold offenders accountable, and enhance victim safety.
New funding in the 2021 grant award will increase the robust programming in place in Cumberland County through the Partnership, by funding several new positions at non-profit agencies in collaboration with Cumberland County. The grant will support a new Enhanced Police Intervention Collaboration Coordinator working for Through These Doors, a non-profit agency that provides domestic violence response and advocacy county-wide.
The grant will also fund a Sexual Assault Multicultural Community Advocate who will work at Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine, which provides free services in York and Cumberland counties to anyone affected by sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or sexual assault through prevention programs, support, education, and advocacy.
Further funding will support a domestic violence case manager with Maine Pretrial Services, who will supervise high-risk offenders and direct justice system-involved victims to advocacy services. The grant will also fund overtime expenses for a domestic violence project probation officer and two Portland Police Department officers to attend high risk team meetings.
Finally, new grant funding will support training in risk assessment, stalking, firearms relinquishment, and non-fatal strangulation; transitional housing; interpretation services; and other individualized needs for high risk victims in transition.
The Violence Intervention Partnership has earned competitive funds from the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women consistently throughout the program’s quarter-century run. Since 1997, the program has put to work over $4.7 million from the federal agency in combating domestic violence across Cumberland County.
The COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions resulting from it have created increased danger for victims, especially for those living with an abusive partner. Since the start of the pandemic, VIP and its partners have pivoted creatively to continue a coordinated response and provide services to victims of domestic and sexual assault.
Partners maintained regular communication with law enforcement, prosecutors, probation officers, case managers and advocates to ensure that a coordinated legal system response to domestic violence would continue amidst the challenges of the pandemic. Agencies provided extra staff to increase capacity at helplines.
Over several successful years of program growth, the VIP has earned national recognition for the work its partners have committed to preventing domestic violence, and holding offenders accountable. Project Director Faye Luppi was recently honored with the Peter J. DeTroy III Award by the Campaign for Justice for her work to remove barriers for people who are vulnerable, to advance justice in Maine, and to further the good of the community.