Russellville, Arkansas – In order to bring a new position to the force, the Russellville Police Department is partnering with the River Valley Shelter for Battered Women and Children.
The department’s newest ‘victim advocate’ will work to offer support to domestic violence victims in the city. “Our focus is going to be there for them, for the victim,” said victim advocate Linda Bankston.
According to Russellville Police, they average about 30 domestic violence calls a month. Beyond a referral card, they say they’re limited in what they can offer victims for extra support.
“We want to help the victim get justice or hold somebody accountable and sometimes our focus gets diverted for a little bit from what the victim actually needs,” said Russellville Police Chief David Ewing.
Dividing up the work between officers and the advocate on duty, the new program will work to bridge that gap. “Maybe it’s that one phone call from an advocate that causes the victim to get the help that she needs,” said Ewing.
Every day Bankston will go through reports, calling domestic violence victims and offering support, whether it’s a place to stay or an ear to listen. “It takes the weight off their shoulders and helps them carry the load,” said Executive Director for the River Valley Shelter for Battered Women and Children Mandi Geels. “We can help them do the things they need to become independent and safe.”
Hoping the program will truly make a difference, the two groups are working together on the same goal. “Sky is the limit from here,” said Bankston.
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