TUESDAY, MARCH 7, 2000202/616-3534


WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new handbook released by the Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) will help law enforcement officers better understand and meet the needs of crime victims. First Response to Victims of Crime provides law enforcement officers basic guidelines when approaching and interacting with elderly victims, victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, child victims and survivors of homicide victims.

Prepared by the National Sheriffs' Association with funding from OVC, the handbook also addresses issues that arise during the initial contact between officers and victims.

"How people cope as victims of crime depends largely on their experiences immediately following the crime," said Kathryn Turman, OVC Director. "The way in which law enforcement officers initially respond to victims is critical in determining how victims cope in both the short and long term. This interaction also strongly influences victims' participation in the investigation and prosecution of the crime, and increases the likelihood that they will report future offenses to law enforcement."

Since officers are usually the first officials to approach victims, they are in a unique position to help victims cope with the immediate trauma of crime. The handbook provides officers with tips for responding to victims' three major needs: to feel safe, to express their emotions and to know "what comes next" after their victimization. It also includes a list of national victim resources to help officers assist victims in finding the services they need to cope with and recover from their victimization.

"Depending on the nature of the crime, law enforcement officers may not always be able to direct their immediate attention to victims," said Turman. "How officers respond to victims, explain their competing law enforcement duties, and work with victims is very important."

First Response to Victims of Crime, as well as information about other OVC publications, programs and training opportunities is available through the OVC Website at and from OVC's Resource Center at 1-800/627-6872. Information about other Office of Justice Programs (OJP) bureaus and program offices is available at



For further information, contact: Linda Mansour on 202/616-3534