State College

How State College will use a $500,000 grant aimed at helping domestic violence victims

State College received a $500,000 federal grant that will continue funding the borough police department’s domestic violence unit.

The grant from the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women encourages intergovernmental partnerships to ensure sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking are treated as serious criminal violations, U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-Kreamer, said in a statement Friday.

“This money will help ensure local government can better cooperate and coordinate with other agencies to ensure the heinous acts of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking are dealt with seriously, professionally and with appropriate due process,” Keller said.

The borough’s Victim-Centered Intensive Care Management Unit includes a domestic violence detective, an advocate from Centre Safe and a project coordinator. All three work out of the police department, Centre Safe Executive Director Anne Ard said.

The goal was to have a central location where information from a variety of sources could be reviewed to better provide appropriate intervention as soon as possible, Ard said.

“It’s very helpful to have this unit,” State College police crime prevention specialist Adam Salyards said. “These can be pretty intensive cases.”

State College police assigned an average of 88 “sexual” cases from 2015-2018. The department is on pace to assign about 102 sexual cases this year, according to data provided by borough police Lt. Keith Robb.

State College was the first municipality in Pennsylvania to implement the “model” program, VCICM coordinator Cindy Shelow said. The unit was founded in 2006 and has handled more than 6,200 cases, she said.

The idea for the unit, which has been federally funded since its inception, was developed after Amy McGee was fatally shot by her husband Vincent McGee in November 2001.

Vincent McGee shot her because she planned to leave the relationship and take their children with her, then-Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar said during trial in September 2002.

“A lot of people who knew Amy had bits and pieces, but nobody knew how bad it was,” Shelow said. “Things were too segmented.”

Vincent McGee, 55, is serving a life sentence at Fayette state prison.

Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He grew up in Lewistown and graduated from Lock Haven University.