LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The grant awards announced Thursday are being launched as “Project Veronica,” in honor of a local victim of domestic violence named Veronica Caldwell.
The state has seen a 42% increase in calls for crisis intervention, compared to the same time last year, according to the Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. Factors like isolation, stress, and economic anxiety have contributed to the surge.
"What's really heartbreaking is the paid and the real-life devastation that domestic violence can cause to our families," said U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich.
The Department of Justice, through the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Office of Violence Against Women (OVW), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), is awarding nearly $7 million in grant funding and award opportunities to assist law enforcement agencies, tribes, victims of domestic violence, and local and state government within Nevada, as part of its efforts to curb domestic and sexual violence across the country.
The grant funding will be used to build partnerships with advocacy groups and Metro police officers, by creating special victims response teams.
The grant awards are being launched as “Project Veronica,” in honor of a local victim of domestic violence named Veronica Caldwell. In 2015, Veronica lost her life at the hands of her husband, who also shot and killed Veronica’s daughter Yvonne and her daughter’s boyfriend.
Veronica’s mother, Rose Floyd, expressed gratitude for the initiative and said: “My family is honored that the Department of Justice and our Nevada communities will be keeping my daughter’s name in their hearts. Veronica would be proud to know that her legacy will live on through a project that aims to save families from the senseless pain suffered at the hands of domestic violence.”
“The recent increase in domestic violence homicides in Nevada is alarming,” said OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan. “The Office of Justice Programs supports efforts by assisting state and local law enforcement and prosecutors in collaborating with U.S. Attorney Nick Trutanich’s office to help hold domestic violence offenders accountable and assist the victims of these crimes. We continue to applaud this Administration's determination to combat all violent crime.”
“We recognize that the increase in domestic violence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic creates an urgent situation,” says Laura L. Rogers, Principal Deputy Director of OVW. “This funding will help support the victims of domestic violence, keep survivors safe, and provide resources for victim advocates.”
“This initiative funds domestic violence service providers and law enforcement throughout our state at a critical time,” said U.S. Attorney Trutanich. “Together, our combined efforts will prevent and deter domestic violence, and save lives. For our part, with the help of these new resources, our office looks forward to working closely with our local, state, and federal partners to make a renewed push to prosecute domestic violence offenders who illegally possess guns.”
“While staying at home may keep Nevadans safe from the pandemic, for many domestic violence victims, staying at home can be dangerous and has resulted in more calls for help,” said Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford. “I’m grateful to the Department of Justice for providing funding so that my office can help protect our victims and their families, and provide much needed additional services.”
“When multiple agencies coordinate efforts to combat a known problem, our success is exponential. The partnership between my office, the U.S. Attorney, the Nevada Attorney General, and multiple non-profits shows our commitment to protecting victims of Domestic Violence and gun violence, and aggressively prosecuting offenders. Additional financial resources provided by these federal grants helps to ensure our success,” said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson.
“Our pledge to protect the public is one ATF takes very seriously,” said Special Agent in Charge Patrick Gorman, San Francisco Field Division. “Our special agents are working hard to prevent those individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms. This includes investigating those who illegally possess a firearm after being convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or who are subject to a domestic violence protective order. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a troubling increase in domestic violence cases. To combat this unacceptable trend, ATF has been working side by side with our prosecutorial and law enforcement partners to achieve a maximum impact with the investigation and prosecution of those domestic violence offenders who illegally possess firearms. It is critically important to prevent these abusers from having access to firearms and to reduce the threat of gun violence in our communities.”
Nevada ranks among the highest in the country for the rate of women murdered by men. And in Southern Nevada, about one-fourth of all murders stem from domestic violence and disputes.
Offenders who have committed domestic violence pose a particularly high risk of murdering their partners. Accordingly, federal law prohibits individuals subject to certain domestic violence protective orders and those who have been convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors — and convicted felons — from possessing firearms. Research indicates that an abuser with a firearm at home is five times more likely to kill her or his partner, compared to an abuser who does not have the same access to a firearm.