Justice Department Honors Indiana Victim Advocate
Today, the Department of Justice recognized Shelby Kay Looper with the Tomorrow’s Leaders Award during the National Crime Victims’ Service Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. This honor is awarded to youth up to age 24 who have dedicated their efforts to supporting victims of crime.
“Victims of crime deserve assistance and support – no matter their zip code,” said Attorney General Sessions. “Shelby Looper has already distinguished herself by fighting hard to provide adequate services to victims of crime in rural Indiana. Her dedication and commitment has paid dividends for Hoosier families, and I have no doubt that her impact will be felt for many years to come.”
While majoring in criminal justice and criminology at Ball State University, Looper interned at the Muncie Police Victim Advocates Program. During her internship, she realized that some rural and small-town police departments were not offering victims the same services available to those in larger cities. On her own initiative, Looper visited these police departments to educate officers about the victim services resources available to them through the Muncie Police Victim Advocates Program.
After her graduation, Looper was hired by the Muncie Police Department as a victim advocate. She established the Domestic Violence On-Call Program which places victim advocates on the scene when police respond to domestic violence calls. This allows the victim advocate to establish a relationship with victims, design a plan to meet their needs, and build stronger relationships between the police department and the community. In July 2017, Looper was named Director of the Muncie Police Victim Advocates Office.
“Ms. Looper’s dedication to ensuring victims have access to necessary resources is not only extremely admirable but it is also proof that even at a young age, you can have a very significant and positive impact in your community,” said Director of the Office for Victims of Crime Darlene Hutchinson. “The Department of Justice is proud to honor her for her remarkable contributions and for her commitment to justice for all individuals victimized by crime.”
During today’s ceremony, the Justice Department recognized a dozen individuals and organizations for their outstanding efforts on behalf of victims of crime. Awardees were selected from public nominations in ten categories.
Each year in April, the Department of Justice observes National Crime Victims’ Rights Week by taking time to honor victims of crime and those who advocate on their behalf. In addition, the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney’s Offices organize events to honor the victims and advocates, as well as bring awareness to services available to victims of crime. This year’s observance takes place April 8-14, with the theme Expand the Circle: Reach All Victims.
The Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime, within the Office of Justice Programs, leads communities across the country in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week each year. President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in 1981 to bring greater sensitivity to the needs and rights of victims of crime.
The Office of Justice Programs provides innovative leadership to federal, state, local, and tribal justice systems, by disseminating state-of-the art knowledge and practices across America, and providing grants for the implementation of these crime fighting strategies. Because most of the responsibility for crime control and prevention falls to law enforcement officers in states, cities, and neighborhoods, the federal government can be effective in these areas only to the extent that it can enter into partnerships with these officers. More information about the Office of Justice Programs and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov. More information about Crime Victim’s Rights Week can be found at https://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw/.