WHAT IS THE VICTIM SERVICES UNIT?
The Victim Services Unit is a volunteer group of people dedicated to helping victims survive a crisis or crime against them. They are the “Helping Hands” of the police, fire and medical personnel. They free the departments up to do their jobs without leaving the victim “out in the cold” or ignored. The objective is to avoid further victimization.
WHAT ARE THE PURPOSES OF THE VICTIM SERVICES UNIT?
The Victim Services Unit is designed to:
- Comfort and help victims and make referrals to appropriate agencies and services of the area according to needs.
- Serve as a liaison for victims, their families, and scene officials or emergency service providers.
- Aid and educate victims as to their rights, the Victims Compensation Board, and the judicial system.
- Help when and where needed.
- Provide short term crisis intervention.
HOW IT WORKS
Victim services advocates are called out or paged by Central Dispatch for law enforcement, fire departments, hospital staff, the Prosecutor’s Office or the victims themselves. Advocates may be called on scene, to our office or other locations convenient to the victims and/or survivors.
At an “on scene” call, we talk to victims to establish needs. If it is a crime scene, we attempt to separate the victims from the scene activity of investigative purposes, and yet maintain the link to the investigating officers for victim questions.
In the event of a death, advocates will assist in phone calls and provide information in regards to funeral homes, autopsies and contacting clergy.
We advise victims about the Victim’s Compensation Board and if needed, assist them with filling out the forms which enables them too receive monies they may be eligible for.
We walk victims through the court system and interpret judicial actions taken by judges and lawyers and we encourage victims to continue through the judicial system to ensure proper case dispositions.
We further refer victims to agencies and services offered by our county to assist with mental and emotional recovery afterwards.
Confidentiality is required and adhered to by all advocates and information is only shared with associate advocates in the event they need to assume responsibility for a case. Victims are informed that whatever they say will be repeated to the investigator in the event that it will help the case.
Volunteers of the Delta County Sheriff Department are trained by a Michigan Sheriff Association trainer for an initial 40 hours with ongoing follow-up training. Advocates are bound by policy and procedure developed by the Sheriff Department but are available to ANY law enforcement agency or emergency services in Delta County.