Core Elements and Challenges
Coordination and Collaboration
Law enforcement-based victim services programs must work with local criminal justice offices, social service agencies, and victim service providers to coordinate, streamline, and optimize victim services. It also makes sense for rural law enforcement agencies in the same region to consider partnering to ensure consistent victim services and maximize use of personnel.
Most of the grant sites emphasized nurturing relationships with local agencies that served victims. One-on-one interaction with agency representatives to introduce the law enforcement-based victim services initiative was invaluable in building trust. As relationships developed, those involved became more comfortable about referring victims to local services, working together to assist victims in a timely manner, and collaborating to enhance the community response to victims.
ChallengeLocal community organizations that serve victims may initially be reluctant to work with a law enforcement-based victim services program.
They may be cautious if they have no history of partnering with their law enforcement agency or if they have had past conflicts. They may be concerned that the existence of such a program might lead them to lose funding, detract from the public support they receive, or duplicate services they provide.
To overcome reluctance, site programs sometimes created forums for discussions with community organizations. They held meetings and did individual outreach to discuss what the agency planned to accomplish and how they hoped to partner with community organizations rather than compete with them for funding. They stressed that their services could help reach victims who traditionally did not take advantage of community resources and aid them in connecting with local organizations that could address their needs. Community organizations were asked to serve on their advisory boards and assist with needs assessments and evaluations. Some of the law enforcement subgrantees participated in community task forces to network with local organizations and increase their credibility as legitimate victim service providers. After addressing initial concerns, most sites gained the support of community organizations.