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The Superior Police Department (SPD) recently received a grant through the U.S. Department of Justice to hire a detective whose full time job is to investigate domestic violence issues in Superior. The grant, totaling $440,969, will fund the officer’s salary and the part-time support of a CASDA (Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse) representative for three years.
The SPD has chosen Michelle Lear to be the detective for this initiative. Lear has been working for the SPD for around 15 years, according to Police Chief Nicholas Alexander. Lear had previously been a full-time detective working for the SPD investigating domestic violence cases years ago, but the grant that funded her position ran out, Alexander said. She has continued to work as a detective with a regular case load and a focus on domestic violence.
The SPD was notified they were among the departments chosen for this grant in November and will be fully implementing it in April of 2018. Alexander hopes that in three years when the grant funding runs out, they will be able to continue to fund the full time dedicated position with their own budget.
SPD partnered with a representative of the Duluth Model when writing its grant application and is using it as the basis of its own approach to domestic violence cases. The Duluth Model has been nationally recognized for its work in creating positive change for domestic violence victims in the criminal justice system.
The SPD takes domestic violence cases seriously and realistically, Alexander said, noting that domestic violence is one of the most underreported crimes, and that leaving can be the most dangerous time of those relationships.
“It’s oftentimes silent because there is stigma and embarrassment and fear,” said Alexander. “You hear so often ,“Why doesn’t she leave him? Why does she stay with him?” But the fact is there are a lot of logical reasons why someone does. They can be financial, they can be emotional, they can be because of children, it can just be simple like safety or fear of life and being killed. There are a lot of reasons why people stay.”
The grant is titled, “Improving the Criminal Justice Response to Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Program.” By having somebody work full-time on these types of cases, they hope to better improve the safety of victims and offender accountability. They are hoping to accomplish this by looking at their current policies by having focus groups made up of victims of domestic violence. They hope through these focus groups they can find what parts of the process with law enforcement were troubling, traumatizing, or problematic, Alexander said.
“We will then find ways to litigate that so we are not adding any stress to their problems,” said Alexander.
Within offender accountability, Alexander said they will come up with better risk assessments for offenders so when they go to court the judge has all the information on the threat they may pose to the victim.
A CASDA representative will work with Lear as an advocate to provide victim services and resources.
Outdoor Rec Committee Hears From Public
Superior has formed an outdoor recreation committee as part of a grant from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program received this past summer. The committee is made up of residents and government officials to look at Superior’s 24 parks and create a comprehensive outdoor recreation plan.
A survey was created for residents to answer how they felt about parks and recreation spaces in their current state. 1,644 people responded to the survey which asked what activities they do in parks, how far they live from one, what could be improved and what keeps them from visiting parks more often.
On Monday night, the committee held a listening session at the Government Center. About 40 people attended the meeting where they heard the results of the survey. After the presentation, small groups were formed to discuss key issues further.
The goals for the comprehensive outdoor recreation plan are to establish and maintain parks and recreational services in Superior, promote these parks in an economical manner, evaluate changing needs for recreational spaces, promote active transportation, and encourage environmental and historical preservation according to the plan update presented on Monday evening.
The committee should have its new comprehensive plan completed by June of 2018.