Justice Department Honors Travis County, Texas Sheriff’s Office Volunteer Program
Today, the Department of Justice recognized the Travis County Sheriff’s Office Victim Services Unit Volunteer Program with the Volunteer for Victims Award. This honor is awarded to individuals or programs that provide extraordinary service to crime victims without compensation. The program was honored during the annual National Crime Victims’ Service Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“The women and men of the Victim Services Unit cater to the specific needs of area victims, including through on-scene services, continuing education, and expanded access to legal assistance,” Attorney General Sessions said. “Their innovative model – which relies on both professional and volunteer support – is an inspiration, and I applaud them for their critical work on behalf of crime survivors in and around Travis County.”
The Travis County Sherriff’s Office Victim Services Unit was established in 1984, prior to state mandates requiring crime victim liaisons within law enforcement agencies. The unit is composed of a Victim Services Director, a Social Services Program Coordinator, and six Victim Service Specialists.
These trained volunteers provide an immediate response and support to victims of various criminal and crisis circumstances. Volunteers help victims establish their personal safety, secure access to community services, and apply for victim compensation.
“Without compensation, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office Victim Services Unit volunteers provide assistance and services to victims 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Director of the Office for Victims of Crime Darlene Hutchinson. “The Department of Justice is proud to honor them for their remarkable contributions and for their 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/.