Victim Assistance Unit: Background
Background of the Victim Assistance Unit
Police victim advocates and investigative personnel are in agreement with research suggesting that if crime victims and witnesses receive assistance in a timely manner, psychological trauma is greatly reduced, therefore enhancing recovery time and the re-establishment of a normal life.
Enhanced focus on victims and witnesses is thought to have a direct effect on their well-being and that of communities traumatized by crime, and the hypothesis that victim assistance leads to increased levels of cooperation with investigations, prosecutions and ultimately the reduction in crime and violence.
On October 16, 2011, Police Chief Darryl Forté established the Community Support Division (CSD) within the Investigations Bureau of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department for the purposes of enhancing the KCPD response to crime victims, witnesses and their families and; addressing violent crime through crime prevention, intervention and reduction strategies.
Victims of crime are guaranteed certain notification rights and participation in the criminal justice system under the Crime Victims’ Rights amendment to the Missouri Constitution and laws that took effect in 1993. Under the amendment, law enforcement agencies are required to provide victims of violent crime with “case status, availability of victims’ compensation services, emergency crisis intervention services, assistance in obtaining loss documentation, releases on bond or for any other reason, and any escape (within 24 hours) or recapture.”
Since 1993, the task of providing required victim rights, compensation and intervention services has been performed by only one KCPD Victim Advocate. Recognizing the need for additional personnel to provide victim assistance to an estimated 11,000 violent crime victims annually, Chief Forté authorized the creation of the Victim Assistance Unit. On September 9, 2013, the Victim Assistance Unit became operational.
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