October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to help ease the pain and emotional trauma of those who have been victims of crime, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office has a full time victim advocate. Beth Robertson has been with the Sheriff’s Office since December 2009 and her position is funded by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). Beth provides crisis intervention, emotional support, referrals and assistance with the criminal justice process. Beth can assist investigators as well as patrol deputies by providing support to the victim on-scene as well as following a traumatic event. She is familiar with other community assistance programs such as Shelter House and can refer victims to applicable resources after assessing their needs.
In 2012, the Sheriff’s Office received 514 domestic violence related calls for service, resulting in 194 individuals arrested. Beth provided assistance to 590 domestic violence victims. To date for 2013, the Sheriff’s Office has received 313 domestic violence related calls for service and 217 arrests have been made. This year, Beth has provided advocacy for 291 victims of domestic violence.
The Sheriff’s Office is an active member agency of the Okaloosa-Walton Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. The (OWDVCC) is a coordinated community response council which pulls together the many agencies and practitioners who respond to domestic violence cases in the Northwest Florida area. This council is a multidisciplinary effort formed to strengthen the links between individuals, agencies and general systems to include but are not limited to law enforcement, prosecution, the court system, victim advocacy, mental health, offender treatment, probation, health care and child protection. The council also has a Walton County Subcommittee which meets monthly to address issues specifically within our community.