Cobb commissioners approve funds for victim advocate positions for Cobb DA

photo of Cobb Superior Court building from the front with a blue sky with clouds in the background

by Caleb Groves

The Cobb County Board of Commissioners approved funding for eight full-time and 1 part-time victim advocate positions in the District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023.

Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady Jr. requested the BOC authorize eight full-time and one part-time victim advocate positions in Cobb, using the Cobb General Fund. Recent sudden changes in the loss of grant funding have led to a request for funds.

The District Attorney’s Office is mandated by Georgia law to provide contact and support services to victims of crime through the criminal justice system, Broady said.

“Educating victims of the criminal justice system and ensuring the person is aware of any additional service programs and in the community who might be able to assist them,” said Broady.

During Broady’s presentation, he read two letters of support, one from Magistrate Judge Brendan Murphy and another from Dr. Tanya Smith, Director of Victim Services at Kennesaw State University.

In Broady’s first year, he moved six victim advocacy positions over to the Cobb General Fund in anticipation that one day this would happen. After being informed that the DA’s office would lose funding, he was informed that the DA’s office would not lose funding. Eventually, on Sept. 22, 2023, the DA’s office was informed the VOCA (Victim’s of Crimes Act) grant funding would be cut from $1.2 million to $130,000.

Initially, the office was awarded $130,000 in grant funding for victim advocates through November 23, 2023. Now that the office is no longer receiving these funds, Broady is requesting $680,000 to carry out the funding for the remainder of the year.

Cutting staff in half will limit the services the advocates will be able to provide, Broady said.

However, Commissioner Keli Gambrill raised concerns over the county collecting revenue from homeowner insurance premiums to pay for programs like this.

“Why is it always the DA and again, this is the second time the DA has come back asking for positions in funding outside of his budget?” Gambrill said. “Where is that given to our other departments that need support funding to do their jobs?”

Sheffield said the BOC’s job is to make difficult decisions about what to approve funding for and public safety should be an important and needed issue to confront in Cobb.

“What do we say to the victims of the families who are represented here today?” said Commissioner Monique Sheffield. “What do you tell the domestic violence person who is fearful of her life or the lives of children?”

Initially, the office was awarded $130,000 for victim advocate funding through November 23, 2023. However, Broady is requesting $680,000 to carry out funding for the remainder of the year.

For 2024, what is needed to fund the new advocate positions is $810,000, Broady said.

Chairwoman Lisa Cupid mentioned that this is a recurring issue and the BOC will need to find $810,000 in funding for next year, alongside funding for other issues that will likely arise next year.

The funding request passed 3-1 with Gambrill in opposition and Commissioner JoAnn Birrell absent.

Caleb Groves is a Journalism student at Kennesaw State University, where he is a junior.

Originally from Minnesota, Caleb moved to Georgia with his family, where he now lives in Woodstock with his Father, Stepmom and numerous pets.

When he is not in writing, in class or coaching rock climbing, he spends his time listening to music and rock climbing both indoors and out