Victim Assistance: Lessons From the Field
Several of the grantees partnered with federal and state agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and state attorneys general. Others partnered with legal aid or law enforcement. They each also forged partnerships with the other three grantees, handling identity theft cases cooperatively when appropriate and offering joint community presentations and trainings.
Victims Initiative for Counseling, Advocacy, and Restoration of the Southwest, for example, partnered with the legal aid organizations in its four-state service area. VICARS executed memorandums of agreement with these partners describing the responsibilities of each organization for case handling, outreach, and support. VICARS held an in-person training session for its partners and developed procedures for reporting and for referring cases to one another as well as for jointly handling matters when best for clients. Its staff also offered almost 50 trainings and workshops, reaching more than 1,100 participants, and gave speeches to approximately 70 law enforcement and court personnel. The organization trained more than 200 criminal justice and victim services professionals.
Atlanta Victim Assistance advocates principally serve clients of cases adjudicated through the City of Atlanta Municipal Court. AVA partnered with the Atlanta Police Department to address a critical gap that affects victims of crime whose perpetrators have not been identified. Each year Atlanta’s needs in this area continue to grow. The Atlanta Police Department responds to approximately 30,000 incidents of violent crime per year. AVA’s partnership with the Atlanta Police Department allows the organization to provide more "hands-on" activities, such as crisis intervention at the crime scene and response to a 24-hour help line. Advocates work directly in the police zones, responding to calls, assessing victims’ needs, and providing pre-case intervention and followup. Having advocates in police zones can facilitate an organization’s community outreach efforts, which may include providing awareness and education programs to neighborhood associations and schools or to immigrant populations.
The Identity Theft Resource Center served as the "go to" place for many agencies needing assistance with serious identity victim mitigation needs. ITRC established an operational agreement with the County of San Diego District Attorney’s Office—Underserved Victim Advocacy and Outreach Program (UVAOP)—to work together toward the mutual goal of providing maximum available assistance for victims of elder financial abuse in San Diego County.
ITRC also served as a resource for a large volume of escalated cases referred by the FTC. It worked directly with the FBI, Secret Service, the Social Security Administration, and other law enforcement agencies around the country in responding to victim referrals. In addition, ITRC worked collaboratively with various agency representatives in assisting them in their efforts to provide high levels of victim assistance, which included the use of all ITRC documents.