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New Office of Family Safety Starts Work Today

July 1, 2015

Metro Office Will Coordinate Services for Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault Victims

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Mayor Karl Dean announced today that Metro Government's new Office of Family Safety has started work with the beginning of the new fiscal year. The Office of Family Safety was created to coordinate services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault,

Mayor Dean has appointed Diane Lance, a longtime adviser who has spent many years working with domestic violence victims, to serve as the new department's director.

The Office of Family Safety, which Mayor Dean proposed and the Metro Council approved earlier this year, will make it easier for the government to promote and facilitate the coordination of victim services. Those services include safety planning, Order of Protection assistance, court advocacy, danger and needs assessment, and appropriate referral services.

“As a government, we need to do everything we can to make the legal system less intimidating for victims,” Mayor Dean said. “The new Office of Family Safety will pull together government and nonprofit agencies to ensure that victims get the help they need quickly and efficiently.”

The Office of Family Safety will oversee the work of the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center, which has assisted more than 3,000 domestic violence victims since opening in the Ben West Building downtown last fall.

Mayor Dean's most recent capital spending plan, also approved by the Metro Council, calls for construction of another Family Justice Center in southeast Nashville. The Office of Family Safety also will oversee the coordination of services provided in that facility, which will provide one place to go for adult and child victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Plans call for the Metro Police Department's Domestic Violence Division, Sex Crimes Unit and Youth Services Division to be housed in the Family Justice Center alongside the Nashville Children's Alliance, prosecutors from the Davidson County District Attorney General's Office and an office of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services. The facility will be built on the former site of a car dealership on Murfreesboro Road, offering ample parking and easy access to mass transit.

Lance, who started serving as special counsel to Mayor Dean in 2008, has spent most of her time over the past four years working to improve domestic violence victim safety and offender accountability. She led Metro's two-year domestic violence safety and accountability assessment, which brought together more than 100 community members and published 45 recommendations for improving the city's law enforcement and judicial response to domestic violence.

The assessment led to the creation of the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center and the plans for the Family Justice Center, among other changes.

“I've relied on Diane's good judgment and advice for a long time,” Mayor Dean said. “She has made it her life's work to offer victims a clearer path to justice. Victims could not ask for a more caring and competent person to lead this very important work.”

A former division leader of the Davidson County District Attorney General's Office's Domestic Violence and Child Sex Abuse teams, Lance was awarded the Outstanding Public Official Award by the Nashville Coalition against Domestic Violence in 2012. The Tennessee Department of Corrections awarded her the Voice for Victims Award in 2013.

To contact the Office of Family Safety, please call the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center at (615) 862-4767.

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