Biden unveils domestic violence grants in Rockville

The U.S. Justice Department will award $2.3 million in grants to a dozen local governments across the country in an effort to reduce domestic violence homicides, Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., announced Wednesday at an event in Rockville.

Officials said the program was modeled after a similar initiative in Maryland that monitors high-risk offenders and attempts to identify potential victims before crimes take place. A dozen jurisdictions -- none in Maryland -- will receive grants of roughly $200,000 each.

"We have to do everything in our power, everything in our power to keep these tragedies from occurring," Biden said at an event at the Montgomery County Executive Office Building. "We believe that this will save lives…It's saved lives in the state of Maryland already."

The state program, the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, trains police and emergency room staff to question women who may be victims of violence and connect them with law enforcement and legal services. Officials see certain types of domestic violence as predictive of potential homicides.

Maryland has trimmed domestic violence homicides by one-third under the program, officials said.

"Together, we can save a lot more lives," said Gov. Martin O’Malley, who attended the event along with Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin.

The event comes weeks after Congress reauthorized the 19-year-old Violence Against Women Act, which originally created a national hotline for domestic violence victims and ensured that protective orders are effective across state lines.

Federal grants will go to jurisdictions in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio South Carolina and Vermont.

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