This team approach includes officers and advocates who work with domestic violence survivors. Having victim advocates co-located with police officers increases resources for victims, as well as helps advocate and address the barriers victims may face when negotiating their way through abuse situations.
Victim advocates and police investigators work in a team fashion. Together, they review and select cases, make contacts with abuse survivors, conduct detailed interviews, assess enforcement options, and offer advocacy services.
Victim advocates work with clients referred via the restraining order process, police reports, and community partners. Primary advocate services include making in-person contact with victims, offering safety planning, providing information & referrals, assisting with problem solving, providing transportation and accompaniment to court hearings, facilitating access to other social services, and providing emotional support.
"We want them to know that whatever they need, we'll try to meet that need so we can get them to the safe place and they can have healthy boundaries and healthy relationships and healthy environment and kind of be able to move on," says Officer Heather Hughes who works as a DVERT officer. "There's resources and help out there and people who want to assist however a survivor wants to be assisted."
Resources prevent the Special Victims Unit from investigating every case, but it prides itself on serving the underrepresented population of the city, with a substantial number of survivors/families representing minority communities.
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