NEW ORLEANS – In an effort to increase support for victims of crime, the NOPD has added three certified social workers to support victims of crime in the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Districts.
The social workers will be working directly in the districts to provide victim advocacy, crisis intervention, supportive counseling, referrals, and information on the criminal justice process for victims. They will also help facilitate communication between victims of crime and the assigned detectives.
“This is an important and amazing opportunity for the NOPD because it shows the department’s continuous progress toward community engagement and concern for victims of crime,” said NOPD Victim & Witness Assistance Unit Coordinator Rhonda Hill.
The department was able to create the advocate positions after applying for a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant, which is a federal grant designed to help victims and victim service providers with funding in accordance with the Office of Victims of Crimes. The fund is a special mandatory spending account dedicated solely to helping victims of all types of crimes.
“Often times, we focus on making sure perpetrators are brought to justice but we can’t forget about victims of crime and assisting them with their return to normalcy after being impacted by a major crime or traumatic experience,” said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison. “With full-time social workers now in three of our police districts, we can continue to build community trust and provide victims with the resources they need to move forward.”
The addition will also free up time for district officers so they can concentrate more on preventing and investigating crimes. The advocates will not respond to crime scenes but will be working during normal business hours in the three district and will be available for walk-in victims seeking services.
The fund for this service is the only federal funding program supporting victim assistance services for victims of all types of crimes, crime victim compensation, services for victims of federal crimes and international and domestic terrorism and mass violence.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of a violent crime, encourage them to contact NOPD’s Victim Witness Assistance Unit at 504-658-6795.