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Council voices support of Victim’s Advocate Program

By Staff | Feb 14, 2011

Members of the Cape Coral City Council assured the public Monday there are no plans to do away with the Victim’s Advocate Program, which provides support and comfort to families in some of the most difficult times.
Council chambers was filled with supporters of the program, all asking to ensure that the program lives on after a citizen spoke out publicly against it in previous weeks.
Councilmember Derrick Donnell lauded those who showed support for the program, saying that his recent suspension by the Lee County School District paled in comparison to what others had gone through.
“We don’t have anywhere on our radar to get rid of this program,” Donnell said. “This was generated at the podium by a citizen.”
Interim Police Chief Jay Murphy said he and City Manager Gary King contacted the State Attorney General’s Office about potential funding. Murphy said Pam Bondi’s office committed roughly $65,000 for the rest of this fiscal year, and encouraged the city to apply again next year.
Murphy said the money will kick in in March, and that the city was “well positioned” for funding for FY 2011-2012.
“I’m confident we’ll see the $65,000 this year, and I’m confident as I can be we’ll see the continuation of that money,” Murphy said.
People that spoke in favor of the Victim’s Advocate Program said the city’s three representatives helped them through a variety of situations, their family members and themselves, victims of rape and murder and hit-and-run accidents.
The city had four victim advocates, but that number was reduced to three, according to Murphy.
Murphy said “52 percent” of the program was previously eliminated, but the program was able to maintain service levels.
Most, if not all, of the council spoke about keeping the program funded and intact.
“There is money to be saved in this city, but this is not the area to do it,” said Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said the program was “an investment in the citizens,” adding, “This is what makes Cape Coral special.”