Establishing Victim Services within a Law Enforcement Agency: The Austin Experience [open pdf - 2MB]
"The Austin Police Department's Victim Services Division is among a relatively small number of victim assistance divisions that work within law enforcement agencies. Being part of a law enforcement agency allows Division counselors to quickly respond to victims' needs, meet officers at a crime scene, and provide victims with a mix of immediate crisis counseling and practical advice. Until recently, victim services divisions within law enforcement agencies were relatively rare. Most victim services programs were located at nonprofit agencies or within prosecutors' offices, although only 21 percent of major crimes get to the prosecutor's office. This means that about 80 percent of crime victims may not have victim assistance available to them unless a unit exists within a police department, according to Chief Stan Knee of the Austin Police Department. 'Our Victim Services people arrive minutes after the officer gets there, as the paramedic is wiping the blood off the forehead of a badly battered spouse,' Chief Knee said. 'They get a better perspective of the victim than from just reading a police report.' The program initiates crisis counseling during or shortly after a crime has occurred, rather than weeks or months later. The Victim Services Division provides crisis and trauma counseling to victims, families, witnesses, and others, and assistance to patrol officers and investigators on cases."
Office of Justice Programs: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/
OVC Bulletin (March 2001)