Calera officer to address victims

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 10, 2004

The newest officer with the Calera Police Department focuses on meeting the needs of victims of crimes rather than catching criminals.

A grant from the Alabama Attorney General’s office enabled Calera Police Department, along with nine other rural law enforcement agencies in the state, to increase services for crime victims.

Last Wednesday, state Attorney General Bill Pryor announced the 10 rural communities in the state selected to receive $30,000 this year for victim services.

The money is from a $500,000 federal grant from the U.S. Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime and Office of Justice Programs.

The grant is intended to improve victim services provided by rural police departments in the state.

The Calera Police Department used the grant money to create a victim services officer’s post to respond to all victims who report a crime.

The victim services officer will serve as an advocate and direct liaison for crime victims, as well as providing community education and other related assistance for Calera residents.

According to Pryor, each department will use the money to develop plans for providing comprehensive services to victims who may have previously been neglected in rural areas.

&uot;Lack of experienced personnel and resources has contributed to Alabama’s rural crime victims suffering neglect and being seriously underserved,&uot; Pryor said.

&uot;While there are some services in place to offer assistance, victim services are scattered and fragmented.

&uot;There is a dire need for training rural law enforcement agencies in proper first response and treatment of crime victims,&uot; Pryor said.

&uot;We simply haven’t had the necessary resources in Alabama to provide victim advocacy and assistance in our rural areas. I am pleased we were able to acquire federal funding for this vital work as these agencies begin making comprehensive plans to deliver services that are needed desperately.&uot;

The 10 agencies chosen to receive the grant money include the Calera Police Department, Choctaw County Sheriff’s Department, Gadsden Police Department, Hartford Police Department, Luverne Police Department, Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, Mobile County Sheriff’s Department, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, Pell City Police Department, and Washington County Sheriff’s Department