New Domestic Violence Unit Enhances Response, Promotes Prevention

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Domestic Violence Unit is wrapping up their first month in action, continuing to gain momentum toward their assigned goal from Sheriff Bill Prummell. Simply stated, the team’s mission is to reduce the prevalence of violence in Charlotte County both in and out of domestic situations.

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Analyst Brett Armstead, Victim Advocate Chelsea P., and Detective Billy Prummell

The unit currently has three full-time members; Detective Billy Prummell, Analyst Brett Armstead, and Chelsea P., a victim advocate from the Center for Abuse and Rape Emergencies (C.A.R.E.).

Grant funding through the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence Enhance Law Enforcement Project supports the new unit by paying for the detective position as well as agency-wide training in domestic violence and several certifications for American sign language.

Detective Billy Prummell, previously assigned to Major Crimes, recognizes the value of his new assignment. “As a detective in the Major Crimes Unit, I responded to incidents of violence related to domestic disputes, frequently observing that their was a pattern of abuse,” states Detective Prummell. “I am optimistic that our intervention and introduction of services into these situations will prevent that violence”.

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office responded to 2,256 domestic violence incidents in 2017, and 1,499 incidents between January 1 and August 31 of this year. This number does not reflect the number of incidents that were closed as civil matters or labeled some other type of disturbance. That is where analyst Brett Armstead steps in. “Every day, I check all the reports completed by deputies across the county,” states Armstead. “I look to see if the root cause of the incident is domestic in nature, and if it is, I dig further to see if there is an identifiable cause of the conflict. I then provide that information to Detective Prummell.”

Victims of domestic violence stay everyday in abusive relationships because of love, fear for their lives, worry about their children, worry about their pets, lack of financial stability, and lack of support – among many other reasons. As an advocate for victims, Chelsea P. provides support and encouragement to victims of domestic violence to ensure their interests are represented, and their rights upheld. “My position streamlines the collaborative effort between CCSO and C.A.R.E. to assist victims as they make their way through the justice process,” states Chelsea.

Detective Prummell’s efforts in the last 30 days have led to additional charges for several domestic violence offenders. Violations of pretrial release are common, and one offender was additionally charged with aggravated stalking. Detective Prummell also works with patrol deputies and the State Attorney’s Office to see that incidents of domestic abuse are properly followed up on and, if possible, prosecuted. This can entail obtaining additional evidence or statements to bolster a case for prosecution.

Sheriff Bill Prummell is focused on a comprehensive, victim-centered approach to combating domestic violence. “In Charlotte County, we are grateful to see a reduction in many types of crime, but we are also dismayed at a crime that remains consistent across all districts in our community – assaults and physical violence between subjects who are familiar with each other,” states Sheriff Prummell. “The Domestic Violence Unit will take a more holistic approach to stemming violent crime, and by working with our community partners to provide services to both offenders and victims, we hope to drastically reduce the number of domestic-related incidents in our community.”

If you believe you are a victim of domestic violence in any way, please call your local law enforcement. Our non-emergency number is 941-639-0013. (Dial 911 for emergencies).

You can also contact C.A.R.E. at 941-627-6000. An advocate is available to speak to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please, also click safety planning for a customized plan for safety.

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