Republican Gov. Nikki Haley announced a task force Tuesday that would aim to address domestic violence in South Carolina.
The task force will be made up of representatives from law enforcement, education and Cabinet agencies that could include Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, Social Services and Probation, Pardon and Parole.
“Everybody that touches a victim or their family will have a representative around that table,” Haley said.
The announcement came after the governor met Tuesday with battered-women’s advocate Kit Gruelle, subject of the documentary “Private Violence,” as well as Attorney General Alan Wilson, sheriffs, solicitors and legislators. Haley said she watched the documentary recently.
South Carolina has ranked repeatedly among the top states in the rate of women killed by men.
“Think about your daughters, think about your sisters, think about your mother, think about the 10 million children every day (nationwide) that see abuse in their families – what are we doing for them?” Haley asked.
Domestic-violence advocates have said more shelters for abused women and children are needed around the state.
But other state budget concerns including the state’s multibillion-dollar shortfall for road repairs, a Supreme Court order saying the state needs to provide more resources to schools and $10 million needed for added caseworkers at Social Services could leave little money to add shelters.
Haley said it was too early to say where money would come from or if added shelters are needed. The task force will look at domestic violence county by county and identify the resources that exist and what is needed, she said.
Haley said she plans to go into neighborhoods and counties to educate and communicate with residents to make sure domestic violence is not talked about in secret anymore.
“Everybody in South Carolina has to understand you can’t throw a dollar at it or a piece of legislation at it,” she said.
House Speaker Pro Tem Tommy Pope, R-York, said he was excited to see the amount of law enforcement representation at the meeting Tuesday and agreed with the governor on looking past legislation.
“We can pass laws here in the Legislature thinking that we’re doing better out on the street, but law enforcement (officers are) really the ones that see it happen,” said Pope, a former prosecutor who gained national attention when he prosecuted child murderer Susan Smith.