BOSSIER CITY — In times of darkness, a light now shines at the Northwest Louisiana Family Justice Center.
The center will house a multi-disciplinary team of professionals, working together to provide services to victims of domestic violence. It’s the place where victims can go to talk to an advocate, find safety, interview with a police officer, meet with a prosecutor, receive medical assistance and housing information, and also get help with transportation.
Located at 1513 Doctors Drive in Bossier City, the center is based on a pioneer effort in San Diego, California that has been successfully implemented in several locations in Louisiana, including Monroe. The building, which was previously occupied by Bossier Parish Community College’s physical therapy program, was donated by Willis-Knighton Health System.
J. Schuyler Marvin, District Attorney for the 26th Judicial District (Bossier and Webster parishes), said the Monroe location is hugely successful and was a driving factor in getting this program started in Bossier. However, it took many years for the funding to becoming available. Marvin said efforts to create the center date back almost a decade.
“It has been a long time coming. I think this will truly work and I’m excited about it,” Marvin said. “Domestic violence is one of those things that people don’t want to talk about, but we recognize that it is here. We want to give every victim a chance to get back on their feet.”
Marvin stressed that the center was not created to duplicate services. Rather, the goal is to become a centralized point for local services to be coordinated.
“We want to better focus our efforts on domestic violence so we can make a difference here,” Marvin said. “This is new and innovative for our area. Everyone has told us they are ready for it.”
The center covers six judicial districts and nine parishes: Caddo (1st District); Bienville, Claiborne and Jackson (2nd District); Sabine (11th District); Bossier and Webster (26th District); Red River (29th District); and DeSoto (42nd District).
Jeri Bowen serves as the center’s executive director and will oversee the coordination of services available to domestic violence victims.
“It was many years in the making, but the center is finally a reality,” Bowen said at the grand opening. “Our office intends to provide men and women with the guidance they need by introducing them to community partners who can provide the services they need during a very dark and difficult time in their lives.”
Bowen hopes to further expand services to youth and families in the area. For more information, call the Northwest Louisiana Family Justice Center at (318) 584-7174.