OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Community Partnerships for Victim Assistance
Donald Priddy  -  2007/8/1
Our org works with families and law enforcement when a child goes missing. We enjoy great relationships with many law enf depts, yet sometimes find some LEs reluctant to partner. In those situations, what do you see as the most helpful ways to partner with law enf when they often don't want outside help or resources? Jacob Wetterling Foundation - nsabin@jwf.org
1.  Don Priddy
 A great way to partner with LE is to offer to provide training for officers in your field of expertise. This will allow you to develop a rapport and trust with the agency. Most LE agencies are limited in training time due to mandatory training which must be done each year, so this is something that may take time to develop. Try and build a relationship slowly and be prepared to hit walls. Keep in mind there is a lot of demand for training time and LE agencies cant close so the employees can attend. It is very expensive when an agency is doing department wide training. Try and schedule a meeting with the Chief or Sheriff to explain what you do and what you have to offer the department. Many times the LE agency is simply not aware of what your agency does.
My name is Yvonne McGinnis, CEO of RememberingMary.net, a community based organization, providing treatment to substance abused women, children, juveniles, teens, etc. My questions are: What additional measures can we take as concerned community residents/leaders in seeing to it that our neighborhoods are secure and drug free. Also, as a community that cares advocate. I am interested in partnering/collaborating with other community based organizations to promote the well-being, health and interests of teens, juveniles, substance abuse women/children. Any suggestions?
1.  Dave Williams
 I am a detective with the Blue Springs Police Department and formally a School Resource Officer, SRO. Check with your local PD and contact your SRO. As an SRO I was able to offer assistance thru my unit for teens in trouble with drugs and alcohol. Also check with your local mental health organization and if you can get a coalition together that includes mental health, police schools and your city, you are half way there.
2.  Don Priddy
 Neighborhood Watch is a great program for community involvement. Offer to start a Watch group in your neighborhood if you are a resident, or assist residents with starting a group if you are not a resident. If your local LE agency does not have a NW program, ask if they would be interested in starting one, and help find volunteers. As far as partnering with other organizations, you might start with the schools. Most schools have wellness programs and you may be able to offer your assistance in those programs. Locally, we have the Jackson County Healthy Communities Coalition, which is made up of a number of different agencies which serve in different wellness areas. Contact other agencies and look into the possibility of a similar organization in your area.
How can my law enforcement department get involved with National Night Out?
1.  Don Priddy
 NNO is sponsored by the National Organization of Town Watch, http://www.nationaltownwatch.org/nno/index.html. You can go to their web site and get all the information about participating. You can find what other agencies have done for the event. Start getting volunteers early! NNO is held the first Tuesday of August each year.
In the DFW area are there any resources available specifically for immigrant victims?
1.  Don Priddy
 I am not familiar with the area specifically. We have found that colleges and universities are good resources as they will have foreign language departments and most have some type of assistance centers for immigrants. We have used our local university for interpreter services.
Getting victim speakers is a challenge for my program, are there any resources out there that I can tap into to help facilitate this process my work site is in tampa Florida?
1.  Staci Leyble
 You could check with NCVAN North Carolina Victim's Assistance Network or similar agency in Florida. I attend the annual conference every year and they always have outstanding victim speakers. This year, Mark Lundsford,(Jessica Lundsford's father) was the guest speaker. You can find their contact information on their website.
2.  Kellyann Kostya
 I am not sure what event you need speaker for but Tampa, Florida has wonderful speakers. The National institue for Crime Prevention founders are from the Tampa region. They are retired law enforcemnt and are very helpful resource. I am sure you could reach out to them for suggestions. You can contact them through their webpage, http://www.nicp.net/.
3.  Don Priddy
 If you are looking for speakers for NNO programs, contact your local LE agency and see if they can assist you. To find victims who are willing to speak to groups, contact social service agencies as they may have someone available. Some LE agencies have a victim advocate who may be able to help.
Our local law enforcment agency doesn't have a victim advocate or victim services office. How could I go about approaching them with the suggestion to start one? A where could I direct them for more information/resources?
1.  Mike Proctor
 Jennifer, our agency utilizes community based victim advocate groups. Most communities have these groups;many of which would be very willing to assist law enforcement in things like getting victims through the restraining order process, going to court with the victim, etc. If you go on the Internet, and look up Women's Transitional Living Center (WTLC), Interval House, or Human Options, they may be able to give you additional ways to task out what you are attempting to do.
2.  Elizabeth Burns
 I work for a social services agency for seniors in Chicago. I am a crime victim advocate, funded by the Atty. Gen. office. Perhaps there are agencies employing crime victim advocates as part of the services they offer in the community. That may be an easier place to introduce victim advocates than LE agencies, who have so many other things on their plates, and not enough funding to cover what they need to do.
3.  Don Priddy
 Our victim adovcate is funded primarily through a grant from the Illinois Attorney General's Office. Contact your state's similar agency and see if they can be of assistance. Otherwise, you may suggest a volunteer staff. We have had success in using interns from the local university to supplement our office. Starting a new office in LE is a daunting task, due to limited financial resources of most agencies.
At a conference last week I was told that victim speakers should not be used when training law enforcement. What is your take on the matter?
1.  Mike Proctor
 I am not sure why the presenters of that training made that comment. I conduct training on a regular basis concerning stalking. I have found that there is definetly a place for victim testimonials when working with law enforcement. Done right, it can drive home why law enforcement is out there in the first place, to eleviate the trauma these people sustain when they become victims. We have also found that when some of the victims relate their stories, and law enforcement has not been as responsive as they could have been, some attitudes in the room go through a positive metamorphosis.
2.  Don Priddy
 To expand on this response..the issue which may arise is the officers feeling the victim is complaining about how the case was handled, and feeling the need to defend, even if it was another agency. Everyone should understand going in that it is an information exchange for training purposes and not a challenge to a particular incident. Victim advocacy is a tough thing to do and most LE officers are trained only in basics. We should leave extensive advocacy to those who are trained fully in that field.
3.  Dave Williams
 I am a DV Investigator and have used victims as speakers and received a great response. I have attended several conferences over the years and have heard victim speakers that have done a great job. The victm is telling their story from the heart and can advised what they need from LE. Realize that sometimes this can back fire as the speaker may take it out on the officers and that is the biggest problem although I have only heard one victim speaker that came down hard on LE.
4.  Don Priddy
 We have had victim speakers at conferences we hosted that included some law enforcement. It may be better to have a victim whose case was in a different jurisdiction to avoid conflicts with what happened in the case. Victims provide a perspective that many LE persons may not have heard fully and I see no reason why they cannot be utilized.
Other then education/training what would you do to connect with victims of domestic violence who have not reported?
1.  Dave Williams
 Stay in contact with your local Battered women's shelter. Our officers have a packet that we give out on every DV contact and we explain tothem how to get a restraining order. They are also given my name and phone number as the DV investigator. I also work with a victim's advocate from our local shelter and she is a great resource on assiting with victims that do not report or are reluctant to report.
2.  Don Priddy
 Our victim advocate hosts peer sessions which have been successful. She arranges speakers from other agencies, i.e. fire dept., city council members, Attorney General's Office, etc. so there are a variety of topics covered. It establishes trust and a rapport with persons who may eventually feel comfortable enough to report. The sessions are scheduled at large housing complexes, not at the PD.
It has been a problem with our local LE agencies when a U-Visa certification form needs to be signed by them. What would be the best way to approach them about this situation?
1.  Don Priddy
 I am not familiar with the U-Visa, I assume it is a type of immigration certification. I would try to address the problem through a meeting with the Chief or Sheriff to reach an understanding about why the form is important and set up procedures for completion of the form.
How would you recommend getting the word out about our community's plans for NNO events? We want to encourage citizens to join in the activities but are concerned that our efforts are going unnoticed.
1.  Don Priddy
 Another good source is child care centers. We ask some of the centers to set up children's games for us. They also will send home flyers with the kids. The more businesses and organizations you invite to participate, the more advertising you will get.
2.  Don Priddy
 We send news releases to all local media 2-3 weeks prior to the event, then follow up the week before. We visit local businesses who have billboards and ask them to advertise it on their signs. We have gotten pizza delivery places to staple flyers to their pizza boxes. Try and get businesses involved. If you have Neighborhood Watch, utilize the captains to get flyers out. Unfortuanately you usually won't know how successful you were until the night of the event.
We are a newly opened domestic violence shelter. Do you have any suggestions for making local law enforcement aware of our services that they can use as a referral for victims when they respond to calls?
1.  Don Priddy
 Schedule a meeting with the Chief or Sheriff to provide them with information about what you can do to help them. We love to be able to provide our officers with resources to give victims. You may suggest that officers visit the shelter as part of their initial training. Nothing fancy, just a short tour to cover what you can and can't provide.
What have been some of the challenges that you encountered in organizing community events? What have been, in your experience, the most effective types of events for community involvement?
1.  Don Priddy
 Many of the events are labor intensive. NNO, for us, is a couple of months of planning and a full day of work for at least two officers and several volunteers, for a 3 hour event. We have fairly good attendance and people really enjoy it. We try to utilize volunteers as much as possible. The most effective events are ones where we have food, entertainment (DJ, local community band) and diplays. People seem to really enjoy seeing emergency vehicles and having someone there to talk to them about the equipment. We also get McGruff, SParky (Fire Dept. mascot), and other characters at the events. Once again, if you can recruit organizations and businesses to help you, they will spread the word for you.
Our victim/witness division is part of a prosecutor's office. We are very fortunate to work with some wonderful law enforcement agencies in our county. On occasion, however, we have had victims, especially domestic violence victims, tell us that the police officers assured them that they would not have to testify. As you can imagine, when the victim later receives a subpoena for trial, they are not happy and have a lot of questions. How would you suggest handling this situation, both with the department and with the victim?
1.  Don Priddy
 This sounds like a training issue which should probably be handled between the prosecutor and the Chief/Sheriff. As far as the victims go, advocates should be provided when possible to discuss the proceedings with them to help them understand what will happen and the importance of their testimony. Some prosecutors will proceed without victims testimony and some will not.
As a victims' advocate, I have encountered resistance from law enforcement when working on behalf of victims. Do you have suggestions for how to approach law enforcement in a manner to which they would be most responsive?
1.  Don Priddy
 Advocates and LE somtimes have different goals. LE is trained to get the bad guy and not in advocacy to any great extent. While we want to help the victim also, that is not our primary focus. Try to help LE understand how helping the victims will help them to do their job, or will eventually reduce the number of victims which will cut down on calls for service they will have to take. This is an area where there will be conflict, due to differing objectives. Understanding each others goals can help minimize the conflict.
Since National Night Out takes places during student's summer vacation, there is concern from some of our Board members that the youth demographic won't be reached with our advertising. Aside from pizzabox fliers, how else can we market this age group?
1.  Don Priddy
 Since the event is a set day each year, you can go through the schools at the end of the school year for an initial contact. Find out where the kids are in the summer (Boys & Girls Club, swimming pool, baseballsoftball games) and utilize those locations to advertise. Talk to parents and ask them where their kids spend time so you know where to focus. You may be better off to get the parents to bring the kids, rather than getting the kids to bring the parents.
What type of activity would you suggest to strenghten the bond/working relationship between advocates and law enforcement?
1.  Don Priddy
 Training is a good way to help that relationship. Over the last 3 or 4 years we have utilized professionals from our social service agencies to provide training for our officers. As part of our training for new officers, they meet with employees from our local mental health treatment facility and other agencies to get a basic familiarization with the organization. We are fortuanate to have a fantastic victim advocate at the PD. She has developed a great rapport with the officers. Creating that bond with outside agencies is much tougher. A good understanding of what they can do for you and you can do for them is a good start.
I love the idea of National Night Out, and our community is actively planning events to celebrate the event this year. However, what can law enforcement and the local government do year round to reach out to the community and therefore victims within the community?
1.  Don Priddy
 Use NNO as a kick off to establishing or strengthening Neigbhborhood Watch programs. Plan small neigborhood gatherings throughout the year to reinforce community involvement.
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