Centre County renews contracts to support programs to combat violence against women

Centre County commissioners renewed several contracts totaling $112,835 on Tuesday to support outreach efforts and programs for female victims of violence.

By unanimous vote, the commissioners approved the renewal of five contracts:

•  $9,800 for international outreach consultant Debra Greenleaf to promote and make available outreach to international victims through a STOP Violence Against Women Grant;

“This promotes to the international population that is available in the county,” said Dawn McKee, STOP grant coordinator. “They translate protection-from-abuse materials ... into foreign languages.”

The group also created large-print versions and translated written materials into Spanish and English audio files, she said.

•  $735 for Global Connections to promote the resources available to victims through the STOP grant to distribute materials and work with Greenleaf to help those isolated by language and cultural barriers understand the victim services;

•  $9,800 for McKee to continue as STOP grant coordinator;

•  $28,750 to provide

Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency

funding through the STOP grant to State College borough, which partially funds the salary for a police detective who works in sexual assault cases; and

•  $63,750 to provide PCCD funding through the STOP grant to the Women’s Resource Center. The money would go toward items such as two advocates’ salaries and mileage, McKee said.

STOP stands for Services, Training Officers and Prosecutors, and is a federal program that distributes funds to organizations in 21 categories. The Violence Against Women grants, one of the categories of grants, promote “a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to enhancing advocacy and improving the criminal justice system’s response to violent crimes against women,” according to the federal Department of Justice.

The program helps develop strategies to address violent crimes against women as well as improve advocacy efforts and services to women.

McKee said she wasn’t sure that Centre County — and the Penn State area, specifically — has seen a spike in the number of sexual assaults; however, the reporting of sexual assaults has improved.

“People are more aware of the services,” she said. “And we’re seeing an increase (in reporting) because of that.”

The response was targeted toward questions involved in a Department of Education probe reported last week that said the number of sex offenses reported to Penn State police increased after the Jerry Sandusky child abuse indictments in November 2011.

As a result of the findings, the Education Department is investigating whether the university properly handled complaints in previous years. The department said that the university’s annual security reports show that the number of reports increased from four in 2010 to 24 in 2011 and 56 in 2012.