Bay County Sheriff's Office Creates Domestic Violence Unit

By: Sandra Osborne Email
By: Sandra Osborne Email

Panama City- Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen announced the formation of the new Domestic Violence Unit on Tuesday to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but it was actually created in June.

"Five or six of our last homicides were because of domestic violence associated," said Sheriff McKeithen.

He says deputies respond to nearly 100 domestic violence related calls each and every month.

"Over the past year or so, we've seen actually an increase in domestic violence," said McKeithen.

The county's new Domestic Violence Unit will work within the Criminal Investigations Division.
Beginning next month, members will receive special training to handle situations, before they end tragically.

Even when officials do recognize cases of domestic violence, the victim often winds-up dropping the charges.

"After everything is over and he's called her from the jail two or three times they think he will change or to give him a chance. It’s a pattern, especially in an abuser, that’s a pattern,” said the sheriff.

Authorities are now working on a way of educating domestic violence victims about the seriousness of their situation before they can drop charges.

"To have a training that they have to go through to drop charges. Hopefully that'll be realized very soon," said Chevina Jackson, a Victim Advocate with the BCSO.

There are resources available, through state and non-profit organizations, that provide domestic violence victims with housing, counseling and employment, but the first step is reporting the abuse and asking for help.


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