Crime victims in Red Bank, as well as in other small municipalities north of the river, may have an easier time accessing supportive services if Red Bank is awarded the three-year victim service coordinator grant for which the city is applying.
The grant would supply $65,000 in federal money annually for three years to fund a victim service coordinator at the Chattanooga Family Justice Center's satellite location in Red Bank. The cost to the city would be a 25 percent "soft match" of $16,000 per year, which can be paid in the form of office supplies and job benefits rather than cash, said Red Bank Police Chief Tim Christol.
The Red Bank Police Department formed a partnership with the Family Justice Center about a year ago in an effort to provide the community with a central location offering a variety of services for victims, such as assistance finding short-term housing in domestic violence situations, counseling for rape victims or advocating for victims of child abuse, Christol said. The FJC began setting up at White Oak UMC for several hours on Tuesdays, corresponding with the hours of Red Bank's City Court.
Many of the victims referred to the satellite location by RBPD officers lack transportation and otherwise would have had to go to Chattanooga for services.
Christol said the grant would allow for the hiring of a full-time coordinator who would deal with victims almost from the point the crime occurs and who could be called to the scene to help victims navigate the often-complex criminal justice system and access available services from the start.
"We do everything we can, but our focus is dealing with the crime itself, or the perpetrator, and unfortunately, the victim almost gets lost in the whole thing," he said. "[Hiring a victim services coordinator] gives us the opportunity to focus on solving crime and dealing with the justice side while they have an advocate helping them through the system."
While the victim service coordinator would be managed by the Red Bank Police Department, Christol said the new services — like all the services provided at the FJC's Red Bank location — would also be available to other small police departments north of the river, such as Soddy-Daisy's and Signal Mountain's.
Red Bank should find out sometime within the next 30 days whether it will receive the grant, Christol said. If RBPD is awarded the grant and the city sees benefits from the three-year program, he hopes the program could be continued with local tax dollars, though he plans to continue to seek alternative funding sources such as grants.