by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Long Beach Board of Aldermen unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and a Letter of Commitment by the Municipal Court from the Justice for Families Program.

As representatives of this group; Heather Wagner and Stacey Riley, spoke about applying for a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and asking for a partnership from The Friendly City.  Riley mentioned they would start in October, but the grant application needed to be submitted by March 10.

The lead agency for this program is the Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence.  The mission of the center is to support and serve victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and family members of homicide victims.  Educating the community and reducing the incidents of violence are the goals of the center.

Under this partnership, the city of Long Beach will:

  • authorize the municipal court administrator or judge to submit a Letter of Commitment to submit with the application for the project
  • authorize sharing law enforcement and court information necessary for carrying out the purposes of the collaborative staff and partners
  • provide data and/or reports for purposes of measuring performances of the collaborative
  • cooperate in and direct its various departments to participate in training provided by project partners the Center, BPSOS and Believe
  • cooperate in review of municipal response to domestic violence, prosecution, court protocols and practices
  • provide space for trainings and meetings in furtherance of project objectives free
  • provide space on as needed basis for grant funded personnel to carry out tasks related to the project

In the Letter of Commitment presented by Long Beach Municipal Court Clerk Emma Ward, “The Center and its programs are quite familiar to this Court.  The Center’s Shelter, Case Management, and other supportive services have helped innumerable families regain a measure of self-determination, coping skills and safety.  As part of the Collaborative, the Long Beach Municipal Court is committed to the establishment of an enhanced program of advocacy.”

Ward went on to state how the Center has provided the Municipal Court with the budget for the Collaborative and they were looking forward to the next step in “combating domestic violence.”

After the alderman reviewed the letter, Long Beach Municipal Judge Bradley Rath conveyed, “Think this is a good idea because the Center has been working for years with the victims of domestic violence.”

Before the vote, Wagner expressed how this would be the first project promoting nonviolence and it would be for three years and $650,000.