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Grant funds domestic violence unit

By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Managing Editor
The work of the Escambia County Violent Crime Unit, which investigates and helps prosecute domestic violence cases and provides support services to victims, will continue unabated thanks to a $126,045 grant from the state.
The grant, announced last week, will fund the operation of the Violent Crime Unit at its present level.
The office of the Escambia County Violent Crime Unit is made up of two investigators, a victim's advocate and an administrative assistant. The two investigators, Monte McGougin and Lee Hall, are employees of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, but the unit handles cases referred from other agencies.
Domestic violence cases from Brewton, East Brewton, Atmore and Flomaton are all routed through the office, and the unit handles 350 to 400 cases a year.
McGougin and Hall handle the criminal side of the case, interviewing those involved, helping fill out necessary warrants and later testifying in court if needed.
Victims Advocate Renee Cain works with the victim, referring them to different services that may be of help to them and clearing them for entry into a domestic violence shelter. One that the unit works with quite a bit is Penelope House, in Mobile.
Working with the victims of domestic violence often means helping them get out of the situation they are in. Sometimes, however, the people involved try to work it out between themselves.
Then it is up to the District Attorney. As long as there is not a child involved, the DA's office can and sometimes does decide to let people try and work things out.
The Violent Crime Unit has been in place in Escambia County since 1997.