During National Police Week, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) joins Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in paying “tribute to the law enforcement officers who sacrificed their lives in service to our country.”
Yesterday, I was honored to join my Department of Justice colleagues at a reception hosted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to commemorate National Police Week. I was reminded again what an important role law enforcement officers have in the lives of victims and survivors. Officers are often the first person a victim or survivor encounters after a crime has been reported, and that interaction sets the tone for the victim’s experience with the criminal justice system.
Over the past two decades, OVC has worked closely with IACP to develop and implement strategies and resources that equip law enforcement agencies to respond to the trauma experienced by their officers and to the individualized needs of crime victims. Such programs include the vicarious trauma response initiative, an effort focused on victim-centered law enforcement responses to domestic violence and sexual assault, and a technical assistance program for law enforcement to support crime victims’ access to compensation.
Another project, the Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Victims (ELERV) Strategy, initially released in 2009 and updated in 2020, illustrates how every person in a law enforcement agency has a role to play in effective victim response, and introduces law enforcement leaders to the benefits of victim-centered, trauma-informed, and evidence-based responses to violent crime.
I’m pleased to share that OVC plans to fund a fellowship program devoted to building momentum for the ELERV model. This full-time fellow will work across OVC to identify ways to promote the ELERV strategy, provide training and technical assistance to agencies interested in adopting it, and support agencies that are creating in-house victim services.
OVC also seeks to fund a new national-level technical assistance (TA) project. OVC will award up to $3.75 million to an organization that can provide TA support to law enforcement-based victim service programs across the country. The award recipient will not only provide technical assistance to the 73 sites previously funded under the Law Enforcement-Based Direct Victim Services (LEV) initiative, but will also make subawards for seven new LEV sites.
We are extremely grateful to the local, Tribal, state, and federal law enforcement officers who devote their lives every day to safeguarding our citizens. We will continue to develop tools that support their well-being and those of the communities they serve.