Nebraska: Valley Police Department
Valley is a rural community of an estimated 1,862 residents (2006) who are predominantly White (96 percent). It is located in western Douglas County, between Omaha and Fremont, and close to 50 miles from the state capital of Lincoln. The median household income is $39,200, and 11 percent of residents live in poverty. Of residents 25 years of age and over, 12 percent have a college degree. The Valley Police Department has a chief, four full-time officers, and six part-time officers.
A large number of the calls received by the Valley Police Department come from domestic violence victims. The department realized its ability to respond to the needs of these and other crime victims was restricted by its limited personnel resources. Also, there are no victim assistance programs within city limits. As a remedy, the police department used the OVC grant to contract with the well-established Omaha YWCA's Women Against Violence Program to provide 24/7 phone and in-person assistance to all crime victims in Valley. The YWCA assigned this role to a full-time victim advocate and provided her with supervision. Valley is 30 miles from Omaha, but in the response area of the YWCA.
The police department made the decision to partner with the YWCA for this project rather than create an in-house victim services program because it recognized neither the department nor the town could sustain an additional staff position. The department assigned an officer to work with the police chief and the YWCA to achieve project goals. The police department also collaborated with the Valley Domestic Violence Task Force and the YWCA to conduct a needs assessment by surveying residents, businesses, and service providers; develop and provide resource materials for victims; and present community education programs. Education presentations covered topics such as domestic violence, child abuse, teen dating violence, abuse of elder and vulnerable adults, the criminal court process, alcohol awareness, and Internet safety.
The YWCA served 128 crime victims from Valley during the grant period. Valley police officers made more referrals to the YWCA for victim assistance than ever before and more crime victims than usual contacted the YWCA to discuss their needs. Officers realized that when the advocate responded to their calls to provide crime scene victim assistance they were able to quickly move onto their next call.
After the grant ended, the YWCA and the police department sustained their working relationship. The YWCA absorbed this initiative through its existing revenue sources. The combined efforts of the police department, the Valley Domestic Violence Task Force, and the YWCA to enhance responses to victims and to increase public awareness of victimization issues also continued. For the police department, these efforts occurred through the assignment of existing personnel.