Agency Type: Sheriff's Office
Population Size, based on the most recent U.S. Census Bureau: 31,060
Agency Size: 72 total - 32 sworn; 40 non-sworn
Initiative Partnership(s): Family and Children’s Center; Vernon County Domestic Abuse Project; Stonehouse Counseling; Passages; Gundersen Viroqua Clinic; Vernon County Department of Human Services; Vernon County District Attorney’s Office; Vernon County Department of Corrections; Vernon County Circuit Court
Grant Focus Area(s): Training; Community Engagement; Intimate Partner Violence
The Vernon County, Wisconsin Sheriff’s Office, with a total staff of 72, is the principal law enforcement agency for Vernon County, serving a population of 31,060. The Vernon County Sheriff’s Office received 94 calls for intimate partner violence in 2022, approximately 7-8 calls per month. Of those perpetrators, 29% were repeat offenders. As in many rural areas, limited law enforcement resources are currently available to address this problem in Vernon County.
To address these concerns, Rural Violent Crime Reduction Initiative funds are supporting the launch of the Vernon County HEART (Help End Abuse Response Team) program. Through this cross-sector initiative, the Vernon County Domestic Abuse Coordinator at the Family and Children’s Center will train local volunteers to meet local law enforcement at the scenes of intimate partner violence calls and support victims. In addition, the initiative provides training for local Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) to be a resource for victims so they do not need to leave town for an examination, a significant barrier to victims with children and other responsibilities. A coordinated community response team will meet monthly to guide project implementation. The initiative also creates a path to change for perpetrators through batterers groups, run by trained local clinicians. The goal of this initiative is to create a comprehensive community response to intimate partner violence, reduce the number of children exposed to violence in their homes, and stop the cycle of violence from being passed on from generation to generation.