GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities say Kent County is seeing more domestic violence homicides. Last year, such deaths accounted for almost half of the total number of homicides.
Now the prosecutor’s office is working to change that. Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker is using grant money to create a new position, adding a victim advocate who will focus only on domestic violence cases.
The position, which will cost the county roughly $75,000 annually, will be fully paid for by a grant funded through offenders’ legal fees.
Becker counted at least six cases involving domestic violence from last year that led to a death. Some of them had more than one victim, including the youngest: 2-year-old King Talbert, who was gunned down with his grandmother.
“Usually the people who are discovering them are the other family members. It’s somebody that’s close to them. It could be the kids, mom, dad, aunt, uncle,” Becker said.
Becker says domestic violence cases have the highest likelihood to turn deadly.
“Every single day of the year, we are writing a warrant for domestic violence, at least one,” he said.
The idea of the new position is to prevent those misdemeanor cases from escalating to murder.
“Nobody wants a homicide. Even the worst offender eventually feels regret,” Becker said.
Bogged down by heavy caseloads, the current court advocates can’t follow up and find victims or offenders if they don’t get them on the first couple tries.
“It’s amazing. Between the time something happens to when they call the police, they want something done and they’re afraid and they’re terrified. Two days later, he’s in jail and they’re in love again and they don’t want anything to happen,” Becker said.
The dedicated advocate will help get the victims the resources they need to get out of the situation and the offenders the resources they need to no longer offend.
“If we can reach out and make contact early, we’ll have a bigger impact,” Becker added.
YWCA domestic violence hotline: 616.451.2744
Safe Haven Ministries hotline: 616.452.6664