This letter is in response to last week's recording of the Budget Committee. An unwarranted statement was made in regards to SAVE's request for support from the county. Mr. Kevin George (a County Commissioner for District 3) made the statement that “Anyone could come up with an idea.” Numerous people including myself are appalled by this and would like to know just what exactly did Mr. George mean by that statement?
He also stated that “the county already funds the Sheriff's Department, EMS, etc and that the government couldn't afford anymore of these ideas.”
Is providing a service for domestic violence victims an idea? Webster's Dictionary defines Idea as a thought or a concept. I did not know that providing services for victims of violence was a thought or concept. I thought it was a law, not to mention the moral thing to do.
Since Sept. 8, 2008 this agency has provided services for 325 individuals in Cannon County (157 Children, 134 Women, 25 Males and 11 Senior Adults). It's true, I have applied for several federal grants to help with this agency that would allow us to fund our current services, hire much needed additional staff and expand our scope of services. The grants are wonderful and helpful but are only a temporary solution.
We need a long-term solution and the support of our county and the protection of its citizens. In order to keep this program, we not only need the support and understanding of our county, but we need the funding as well.
I have a degree in social work and could get a job today in another county in the same field. However, I truly believe in this program and want it to succeed for the victims of this county. Comments were made that if we received the grants the county would then help fund. What does this have to do with the county providing funding for this agency?
Speaking of the victims, Tennessee Code 36-3-604 states that the county court clerk “shall” provide Order of Protection Forms and “shall” assist victims in filing out the orders. Since I began working for SAVE in 2008, the court clerks have not provided this service. SAVE currently keeps this county in compliance.
By law (Tennessee Code 26-3-619) when officers go to a domestic call they they “shall” offer to transport a victim to safety. Currently officers contact this office and ask for assistance when needed. This again in turn helps the county by allowing the officers to remain on patrol.
By law (Tennessee Code 26-3-619) officers have the authority to arrest abusers even if the victim is reluctant to press charges. If a Respondent (abuser) violates an order of protection (36-3-611), officers again “shall”arrest the Respondent. Judges have the power to revoke Respondents bail and they can hold the Respondent in jail for 10 days for every violation of the Order of Protection. With these and other laws in place for domestic violence does this not make it a lot more than just an “idea”?
I am disappointed, Commissioners are supposed to be professional individuals, elected by the people to represent and ensure this county does what is best for its citizens. Not only was this program insulted but victims everywhere.
The above statement was only the beginning. Mr. George also told a joke under his breath to Mr. Mark Barker who apparently found it funny. Do not take my word for it. Please go online and listen. The video in question is on the cannonwire.com. Click on Budget Meeting: There is no Chief Deputy, No Sergeant at CCSO. Go to the video marked for SAVE, 911 and Election commission.
SAVE will be going before the full Commission Board on June 26, 2010 to ask for each Commissioners vote on funding for our program. Like the many volunteers of SAVE and myself, there are numerous supporters for this agency who strongly feel victims rights are a must not an Idea.
If you would like more information about this agency or how you can help, please contact this office at 615-563-6690.
Lisa Baird, Director
Cannon County SAVE