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Victim Services in Rural Law Enforcement
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        NCJ 232748

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Overview of Activities

Needs Assessment

To gather information from crime victims, service providers, and law enforcement officers about gaps in victim services, the sites employed various approaches, including written and verbal surveys, community forums, and focus group discussions. Some used volunteers and consultants, such as a university professor or a victim service agency, in addition to internal resources to develop survey instruments, conduct assessments, and compile data. Because it was often difficult to get feedback, some sites relied on multiple data collection methods. For example, the Hartford Police Department surveyed the general population and police personnel and reviewed incident reports to identify the frequency of various crimes. The department also sought feedback from members of its interagency advisory council.

Sites collected data on various factors, including—

  • The scope of local crime.
  • Community resources and victims' use of those resources.
  • Victims' satisfaction with help they received from law enforcement, other agencies, and service providers in the aftermath of a crime.
  • Perceptions of law enforcement officers and service providers on the effectiveness of response to victims.

Although each site generated locality-specific findings, there were common findings across sites, such as the need for—

  • More training for rural law enforcement officers.
  • Greater coordination among those working with or on behalf of crime victims in rural areas.
  • More services for rural crime victims, such as on-scene crisis intervention and referrals; financial aid; support and advocacy during the criminal justice process; emergency assistance with food, clothing, and shelter; transportation; mental health services; legal assistance; and victim notification of offender's pending release from incarceration.
  • Improved response to victims of specific crimes, particularly domestic violence, sexual assault, and child and elder abuse.
  • Overall improvement of the criminal justice system in such areas as the need for more law enforcement followup with victims, a local court, informational materials for victims, services of victim advocates, and better victim notification services.
  • Increased public awareness of victimization issues and resources available to crime victims.