Maury Co. Sheriff Refuses To Support Safety Center - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Maury Co. Sheriff Refuses To Support Safety Center

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by Marcus Washington

COLUMBIA, Tenn. – A proposed shelter to help stem the violence and protect victims had law enforcement on board, but the Maury County sheriff put a stop to it.

The plan for a one-stop shop Safety Center that would help victims of domestic violence, has been denied by the Maury County sheriff Enoch George. He refused to write a letter of support.

The letter would have helped the county and its cities which are in the running for an $80,000 grant from the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Program.

When it comes to relating to the very women she helps, Mary Niles knows their story of abuse from experience.

"I actually had to leave my husband and go into hiding for a month. After that month he finally found me," said Niles.

She said her husband stabbed her in the chest with an 8 inch knife while she was at work.

"It's embarrassing, it goes through your mind; what's out there? Is there help out there for a victim?" said Niles.

In an attempt to provide victims of domestic violence with services they may need, a number of agencies (Columbia Chief of Police, Maury County sheriff, Columbia city mayor, Maury County mayor, Legal Services and the District Attorney) in Maury County were looking to establish a Safety Center.

"That's what the goal is, to stop people from having to running here to here to here to here to here. They can come to one place and we can put them in one room and the rest of us can figure out how do we coordinate their services and get these things to one person," said Center of Hope director Angela Slack.

That goal was short lived when one out of the seven heads of city and county organizations refused to sign a letter of support that would have helped secure an $80,000 grant.

The sheriff has gone on record saying he refused to sign the letter because he is against a metro form of government.

"Each agency would retain their power, so no one person is going to control all those agencies," said Slack.

For now, the Safety Center is on hold, but survivors of domestic violence like Niles said it's something they need.

"That victim would feel like, wow someone does care, someone is out there to help. Right here at my hands there is everything I need," she said.

NewsChannel 5 tried to contact Sheriff George, but he was not available for comment on Monday.

Tuesday is the county's safety committee meeting and one commissioner, Scott Cepicky, has said he will ask the sheriff to explain why he is not in support of, at least, talking about the Safety Center.

Email: mwashington@newschannel5.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/NC5_MarcusWashington
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