FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                    OVC

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2002                                                                                 202/307-0703




Tips Include: Do not label victims by their impairment,

Speak directly to the victim


WASHINGTON, D.C. –  A new handbook from the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) describes various disabilities, their common symptoms and ways that law enforcement officers can be responsive to these victims’ needs without compromising an investigation.


The handbook, First Response to Victims of Crime Who Have a Disability, offers specific guidance and tips on working with victims who have Alzheimer’s disease, mental illness, developmental disabilities, or are blind, visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing.  An estimated 17 percent of the U.S. population has one of these disabilities.


“Every crime victim deserves to be treated fairly, with compassion and respect,” said OVC Director John W. Gillis.  “Law enforcement officers are often the first ones at a crime scene and it is essential that they have the tools they need to treat victims with disabilities with the dignity they deserve.”


The handbook opens with general guidance that applies to victims with different types of disabilities.  It follows with a section covering the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, two laws that require that crime victims with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from law enforcement programs and services. The handbook also features a directory of organizations that can provide more information about disabilities.


OVC developed the handbook in partnership with the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA).  OVC and the NSA consulted with victim service providers, victim advocates, and experts on working with people with disabilities.


Copies of First Response to Victims of Crime Who Have a Disability, as well as information about other OVC publications, programs and conferences, are available through the OJP Website at and from the OVC Resource Center at 1-800/627-6872.


Media should contact OJP’s Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202/307-0703.        

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OVC 02239