Athens Police Violence Against Women Act Refunded

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The refunding of a grant for the Athens Police Department will allow for the continuation of nearly 20 years of work against violence directed at women.

The department's grant application for Violence Against Women Act 2014 funding was approved by the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, according to Police Chief Tom Pyle.

The funding is used to pay the salary of the victim advocate and licensed social worker, Molly Burchfield, and part of the salary of a detective who works with Burchfield.

"This award is a testament to her hard work and dedication," Pyle wrote in the statement.

Burchfield has worked with the department for 18 years, as long as the grant has been utilized within the city department.

"We work on relationship-based crimes, which include stalking, assault, domestic violence and related crimes," Burchfield said.

Related crimes can include aggravated burglary, telecommunications harassment and other incidents that stem from initial incidents, according to Burchfield.

Typically, an initial report is done by an officer, who then passes the case on to Burchfield, but she said she has worked on many "off the street" cases, in which a victim came to her without having filed a police report.

Burchfield can collect additional evidence based on initial reports and file for civil or criminal protection orders, but she does not do any of those things without the consent of the victim.

The grant is a $60,000 grant with an 20 percent cash match, meaning the department receives $80,000 in total.

Burchfield works through the Athens Police Department, but can also work on county cases if she is asked to do so.

She said her workload has stayed about the same in the last few years. On average, she said she has had about 120 clients per year.

"This year we'll probably be at about that as well," Burchfield said.