News from BSO

BSO’S VICTIM SERVICES UNIT CONTINUES TO AIM HIGH

The Broward Sheriff’s Office works very hard to reduce the victimization and minimize the trauma experienced by crime victims and their families through its Victim Advocate Unit. Victim advocates are on-call 24 hours a day to respond to crime scenes and help victims cope with the aftermath of tragic incidents.

The Victim Advocate Unit, along with several other BSO employees, will be honored for their achievements, tomorrow, during BSO’s Annual Awards ceremony. The victim advocates will be presented with the Support Unit of the Year Award for their dedication to duty and concern for humanity. The awards program will take place in the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts starting at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, April 5th.

Victim advocates provide crisis intervention, short term counseling, criminal justice information, court support, referrals, emergency assistance for shelter, basic physical needs, and access to a cellular telephone to those still in jeopardy. Last year, the eleven-member unit was able to reduce its open caseload by about 300 percent and boosted its case closure rate to 103 percent.

When advocates are not responding to murders, suicides, shootings, robberies, and other life changing occurrences, they participate in numerous speaking engagements and serve as instructors, teaching victim rights to law enforcement officers and other service providers. Members of BSO’s Victim Advocate Unit were also handpicked to travel to New York City following the terrorist attack on September 11th. While stationed at the Family Assistance Center, the advocates worked 15-hour days assisting and escorting families of those killed or who were then “still missing” in the debris of the twin towers.

BSO victim advocates also work in partnership with the Victim Information Notification Everyday (V.I.N.E.) program to inform registered victims and witnesses of changes in the incarceration status of their offenders through an automated computer system. The V.I.N.E. program is designed to give victims and others sufficient notice of changes to an inmate’s custody in order to help ensure their future safety.

During the week of April 21 through 27, 2002, victim advocates from BSO will join crime victims, community volunteers and other service providers to commemorate the 22nd Anniversary of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. If you would like information on becoming a volunteer in the Broward Sheriff's Office Victim Advocate Unit, or if you would like further information on any of the services available, please call (954) 321-4122.

This report by: Veda Coleman-Wright/PIO

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