State Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, has been named to a state task force on domestic abuse and honored by a statewide business group.
Pope last week was named to a state panel formed by Gov. Nikki Haley. The panel is charged with finding a way to stem South Carolina’s generational cycles of domestic abuse.
Haley named 40 agencies, associations and groups that will be represented, including courts, cosmetologists, churches, legislators and survivors. Their recommendations aren’t due until Dec. 31.
Pope, a York native and former chief prosecutor for the 16th Judicial Circuit, said he hopes the task force can get to the “root issues and root causes” surrounding domestic violence.
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Sponsoring new legislation to combat domestic violence won’t do any good, he said, unless lawmakers and those in the criminal justice system really understand it.
“I’m excited to see if we can start getting to and addressing those root issues,” Pope said.
In his role as a prosecutor, Pope said he spent a lot of time with victims of domestic violence. He said one victim stands out in his memory.
Despite the violence she experienced at the hands of her boyfriend, he said, the woman still felt like she needed to put his happiness first. She also asked Pope if he could guarantee her safety if she testified in the trial against her boyfriend.
“There are these underlying elements and bigger issues that drew me towards wanting to be involved (with the task force),” he said. “Ultimately, the end product will hopefully be knowledge and that knowledge will position us to act.”
South Carolina has long ranked among the nation’s worst in violence against women. The House and Senate have separate bills aimed at curbing the problem.
Pope was also honored by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, the state’s unified voice of business, which recognized legislators who had a perfect score on the 2014 Legislative Scorecard.
The awards were presented to 29 members of the General Assembly, including Pope, “who are committed to advancing issues that make South Carolina more competitive,” said Ted Pitts, president and CEO of the state chamber.
The scorecard tracked key votes on workers’ compensation, student reading initiatives, tort reforms, government restructuring, Certificate of Need and other issues.
Rachel Southmayd with The Herald contributed to this report.