Westerville's new domestic violence-oriented facility will be operated by Nationwide Children's Hospital.

At Westerville City Council's Oct. 16 meeting, city staff and representatives from Nationwide announced the partnership that will culminate in creation of the Center for Family Safety and Healing.

According to city spokeswoman Christa Dickey, the site of the center won't be published for the safety of those who use it.

Dickey said the center primarily will serve those who have been referred to it from either law enforcement or a healthcare setting.

She said it will serve adults throughout central Ohio, and is meant to "increase the safety and education of Ohio's law enforcement personnel, and increase the education, prevention and treatment available to" those who use it.

According to Julie Colley, assistant city manager, the center will be staffed with a "therapist and advocate" at all times, and will serve anyone in need of support.

"We're really excited about this opportunity," she said.

Westerville's push for the center began after a Feb. 10 domestic violence call ended in the deaths of officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli, a fact that was not lost in the discussion.

"This is a very important piece of legislation for us, being very knowledgeable with what happened with domestic violence on Feb. 10," Council Chairman Mike Heyeck said.

Police Chief Joe Morbitzer thanked council members for their "hard work" in helping establish the center.

"We were rocked on Feb. 10 in a case of domestic violence," he told the audience.

Morbitzer said domestic violence is "prevalent in society and a lot goes undetected," and, he said, he hopes the center can deter future domestic incidents.

"One of the things we hope to achieve with the center is to bring victims in who never would have sought treatment before and get them into the counseling and therapy to deal with the root causes of domestic violence and improve their lives for the better," he said.

The center is scheduled to open by the end of the year.

According to Colley, the city will spend $20,000 to "assist in the set up" of the facility, which will be taken over by Nationwide Children's Hospital.

The city will be providing volunteer police officers to staff the center's reception area, and "at some point in the future" may able to put a "victims' advocate" or other staff member on the premises, though Colley said there's "no intent to do that at this time."

Earlier this month, Westerville City Council declared October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the city, indicating the importance city council and staff place on the topic.

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