Feds clear Women’s Advocate Office from high-risk funding list

By John McPhaul

The Women’s Advocate Office (OPM by its Spanish initials) announced on Monday that the United States Department of Justice has eliminated the OPM from the list of high-risk state agencies, an imposition applied in August 2015 due to unresolved complaints from the Puerto Rico Department of Justice dating back to 2012.

The removal of the high-risk status allows the OPM to request funds directly and not through reimbursement, said the OPM in a written statement.

“After having satisfactorily complied with the requirements of the federal government, now OPM will have the opportunity to directly access priority federal funds to fight violence against women on the island,” Women’s Advocate Lersy Boria Vizcarrondo said. “Direct access to STOP [Services, Training, Officers, and Prosecutors] and SASP [Sexual Assault Services Program] funds will reduce bureaucracy and expedite the provision of services for so many victims who require them.”

The official added that “we are very grateful for the support of the federal government and all public servants at the state level who have been involved in this process of removal of the high-risk designation.”

“Their efforts will be of great help to the entities and organizations that offer so much assistance to the victims of aggression and violence,” Boria Vizcarrondo said.

STOP grants are awarded to states and territories in their efforts to develop and strengthen effective enforcement strategies, laws and prosecution to combat violent crimes against women, and develop and strengthen services to victims in cases involving violent crimes against women.

Meanwhile, SASP provides funds to support organizations that provide essential services, direct intervention and assistance for victims, as well as their families and other victims affected by a sexual assault.

According to a letter from the federal Justice Department, the island Department of Justice complied with concluding the recommendations of the audit report GR-40-15-006, and with ensuring that key commonwealth officials complete the financial management training session for grants sponsored by the federal department, among other requirements.

Woman slain in car while 2 minors occupied back seat

The Puerto Rico Police reported that a woman was shot several times and killed at about 12:41 a.m. Monday, in front of two minors of approximately one and two years of age, in the Ramal 54 sector of Guayama at the entrance of the La Pradera urbanization.

Authorities detained a man thought to be connected to the femicide.

The woman had not been identified as of press time, but according to the police she was from the town of Arroyo and was approximately 22 years old.

The woman’s body was found on the pavement next to a red 2014 Toyota Yaris.

The minors, a boy and a girl, were found inside the car and were unharmed during the attack.

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