The IACP Victim Services Committee and LogIn, Inc. honor law enforcement agencies that have demonstrated exemplary efforts in providing innovative service to victims of crime. The Excellence in Victim Services Award recognizes agencies, based on size, that utilize best practices such as effective partnerships, training methods, and performance monitoring tools which place victims at the center of their problem-solving efforts. Submissions are judged by a panel of experts.
This year’s winners were recognized on Monday, October 17 at the 2016 Excellence in Victim Services Award Luncheon, held at Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, California.
The winner of the large agency category was Halton Regional Police Services, Oakville, Ontario. The Halton Regional Police Service was one of the first police services in Ontario to implement a Victim Services Unit (VSU). The program began as a part of the Domestic Violence Unit, but as the region continued to evolve and become more diverse, crime became more complex and therefore required more effective programs to offset the adverse effects. The scope was enhanced to incorporate other categories of crime, such as Human Trafficking and Honor Based Violence. VSU crisis responders provide support for a broad spectrum of physical/psychological trauma through a call-out method as well as an in-tandem service model through which VSU responders ride with sworn officers. Services include: a 60-hour training program that embraces a trauma informed and culturally competent service delivery model; supplementary training each month with a focus on wellness; a full time Children’s Aid worker; 24-hour GPS monitoring service for victims at high risk of violence; a volunteer base that boasts 15 spoken languages; and block training for all officers that includes 30 minutes of dedicated Victim Services training, as well as 90 minutes for all new recruits.
The medium agency winner was Rio Rancho Police Department, New Mexico. The Rio Rancho Police Department (RPPD) Special Victims Unit (SVU) works closely with the full time Crime Victim Advocates Unit to meet the needs of primary and secondary victims experiencing interpersonal violence and special circumstances. The SVU specializes in crimes against children and the elderly; hate crimes; and crimes involving mental illness. To date, the RPPD has increased its staff of Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Certified Officers to include 44 officers, or 31% of its sworn staff, including patrol, investigations, command staff, and support services. The Crime Victim Advocacy Unit has grown from one full time Crime Victim Advocate to three, and plans are in progress to add a Crisis Outreach and Support Team member to the unit. A CIT-trained detective was added to the Criminal Investigations Section to assist with identifying the need to use specialized interview and interrogation techniques for those charged with crime the may suffer with mental illness. These plans are part of a multi-disciplinary, regional collaborative effort to form a Mobile Crisis Intervention Team involving partners from the mental health profession. These efforts assist victims in the most efficient manner possible.
Glasgow Police Department, Montana, was the smaller agency winner. The Glasgow Victim/Witness Specialist and Misdemeanor Probation Officer (MPO) work as one to ensure victim safety and offender accountability. The partners are located in the same office, but with probation having a separate entrance to lessen the chance that a victim and offender may meet. The dynamic relationship between the Victim Specialist and MPO allows for free flow of information. The MPO provides certain and swift offender accountability and keeps law enforcement informed of offender status and the needs of the victim. The Victim Specialist, one of few in the state to be embedded within a law enforcement agency, serves as the coordinator for the Multi Disciplinary Team and Forensic Interviewer. This allows the Victim Specialist to treat the whole person including prior victimization and current needs, thus decreasing re-victimization. Through the partnership, victims and witnesses are supported from the time of the crime to trial and afterwards.
Honorable mentions included Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Florida, with their Senior Crime Prevention Unit; Plano Police Department, Texas, with Plano Police Victim Services; and Northampton Police Department, Massachusetts, with their Domestic Violence Enhanced Response.
View the winning applications in IACP Net’s Main e-Library: