The Office for Victims of Crime, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, recently awarded University Police Services $274,725 under the 2018 Law Enforcement-Based Direct Victim Services and TA Program. This three-year grant will fund a victim service position within University Police Services, which serves the University of Nevada, Reno, Truckee Meadows Community College and the Desert Research Institute.
"The intent of the grant is not to replace any of the valuable services currently in place at the University or within our community," University Police Services Assistant Vice President and Director Adam Garcia said. "Our goal with this position is to enhance direct victim assistance services within police services and coordinate partnerships with community-based programs to serve the broader needs and rights of all crime victims."
The person in this new role will meet with victims of crime to determine immediate needs, provide information on available services, assist in preparation of police reports and other forms, help facilitate court appearances, and coordinate efforts with related University departments including The Office of Student Conduct, Equal Opportunity & Title IX, University Counseling Services and The Student Health Center. This position will also help with safety planning, provide educational outreach and will collect data to help University Police Services determine the needs of crime victims in its jurisdiction.
"At most U.S. college campuses, ours included, crimes are underreported," Garcia said. "In the case of personal violence, students seek services in a variety of on and off campus agencies, making data collection nearly impossible. The Office of Justice Programs studies have shown that system-based victim services (within a police department) can be much more effective in reducing crime because they work closely with police to assist victims in reporting and prosecuting perpetrators. Not all victims will wish to pursue criminal prosecution, but for those who do, having a law enforcement liaison will create a much smoother and less traumatic process."
Garcia said University Police Services will be looking to hire the new victim advocate early in the new year.
"This grant reflects the continuing commitment of the Department of Justice to improve the treatment of crime victims," Matt Dummermuth, principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Justice Programs, said.