Message From the Director
Over the years, Americans have been forced to endure the scourge of acts of international and domestic terrorism. The litany of criminal violence includes the yuletide bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988; the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York; the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City; the 1996 bombing of the military barracks at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia; the 1998 bombings of United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; and the September 11, 2001, attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon and the downing of United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The aftermath of these tragic events brought forth the troubling realization that no protocol was in place to respond to the needs of victims of large-scale domestic terrorist attacks. What resulted from this realization was an impetus for the Federal Government to shoulder an ever-greater responsibility in mitigating the emotional and psychological losses that emanate from acts of massive criminal violence. For example, the response to the Oklahoma City bombing provided a foundation for recommendations to improve the planning and response to victims of future terrorist acts. The Office for Victims of Crime's (OVC's) preparations in 1996-97 for the Oklahoma City bombing trial in 1997-98 are depicted in Responding to Terrorism Victims: Oklahoma City and Beyond, which was published by OVC in October 2000. The report identifies steps necessary to protect the rights of victims of a massive terrorist attack, and it provides a treatise on fulfilling short- and long-term emotional and psychological needs.
The publication released todayProviding Services to Victims Viewing a Trial at Multiple Locationsbuilds on the Oklahoma City report and lessons learned from both the Lockerbie and the first WTC bombing trials and enumerates a coordinated service protocol. Such a protocol requires the development of a community organization, establishment of numerous local Safe Havens, delivery of uniform services at all sites, cultivation of a media plan, development of task forces, sensitivity to confidentiality and liability issues, management of volunteers, and an alertness to special victim-related circumstances that may arise during legal proceedings.
One of the benefits of a coordinated service protocol is the ability to adapt and customize it for special circumstances and unique cases. Trials for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the 1993 WTC bombing, and the Oklahoma City bombing demonstrated that when public interest in a case is high and a community is faced with hosting victims from another geographical area in a courtroom or at a closed-circuit television (CCTV) site, a coordinated community response is essential for providing quality victim services.
This protocol will further address the unique issues presented by mass violence and terrorism trials that involve CCTV sites, namely the value and need for a broad collaboration among multiple viewing sites. It encourages cooperation among disparate communities to ensure a uniform delivery of victim assistance services.