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Victim Services in Rural Law Enforcement
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        NCJ 232748

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Overview of Activities


The majority of sites sustained their law enforcement-based victim service initiatives beyond the grant period.11 Approaches to sustainability varied, and most agencies used multiple strategies to increase the likelihood that their program would continue.

Institutionalizing the Program

Some programs worked to institutionalize their initiatives in their law enforcement agencies. For example, Mahnomen County's Victim-Witness Service Program gathered data to demonstrate its usefulness to victims and the agency, developed a slideshow highlighting the program, and drafted a position description to be added to the county's Policy Information and Record Manual.

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Absorbing Costs

Some programs encouraged their law enforcement agencies to absorb program costs into their existing budgets. For example, Monroe County committed to support a victim service coordinator's position within its budget. Several programs focused on building infrastructures in their agencies so their costs would be absorbed into agency budgets. For example, Calera's Victim Service Unit encouraged the police chief to make policy changes related to assisting victims and to create mechanisms to ensure officer compliance with those policies. The unit developed an array of materials to standardize the agency's response to victims.   

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Requesting Funding From Local Government

Some programs encouraged their law enforcement leaders to request increased funding from their local governing bodies. For example, funding from the county permitted the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office to make two additional advocate positions in the Victim Assistance Unit permanent.

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Seeking Grant Funding

Several programs sought federal and state government grants and nongovernmental grants. For example, the Office on Violence Against Women awarded grants to Pinal County and Port Gamble S'Klallam to support their victim assistance initiatives. Pinal County's Volunteer Service Team partnered with the state Department of Corrections to allow prisoners to raise funds or donate directly to the team. Private foundation funding and in-kind support allowed the Maine State Police to continue offering Project Connection services in Aroostook and Washington Counties.

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Seeking In-Kind Contributions

Several programs sought in-kind contributions for services, equipment, office space, and publicity. For example, Valley and the YWCA sustained their relationship after the grant period ended, with the YWCA using its existing revenue sources to continue to provide services to all Valley crime victims. Luverne's Victim Service Unit partnered with a local motel owner to arrange for short-term accommodations for domestic violence victims. A key to this approach was being creative in identifying potential resources.

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Integrating the Program Into Existing Efforts

A few law enforcement agencies integrated elements of their victim service programs into other agency initiatives. For example, when faced with budget cuts, Siskiyou County combined its Victim Service Unit with other agency units to sustain its efforts.

Success in sustaining these rural law enforcement-based victim services programs was affected by factors such as personnel turnover, staff tenacity and experience in seeking funding and resources, and the degree of support received from law enforcement leaders, governing bodies, community agencies, and the public. Other factors included local politics and administration changes in law enforcement agencies and local government. Sustaining these efforts required vigilance from program staff to counter factors that could negatively affect program continuance and to maintain the support of the law enforcement agency, the community, and funders.

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