A Focus on Victim Services
Victims’ rights and services now help drive the evolution of law enforcement and courtroom practices. From their initial contact with officers, through the investigation process, and into the prosecution phase, victims are being heard. And, persons in a position to create positive change for them have paid attention.
Police agencies continue to become more understanding of the impact crime has not only on victims and their families but on citizens and their trust in law enforcement. Victim services has progressed to a fundamental institution, one that guides and informs criminal justice; public policy; and individual and community health, safety, and well-being. The benefits are clear—victims can cope better with the effects of crime, help identify additional victims and witnesses, and contribute to the outcome of investigations.
However, despite recent progress, research funded by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) found that only a small percentage of persons impacted by crime receive victim services, even when the incidents are reported to police. Law enforcement agencies can play a critical role in providing crisis assistance or linking victims to community-based resources.
With support from DOJ, the FBI launched ELEVATE (Excellence in Law Enforcement-based Victim Assistance Training and Enrichment). It aims to pinpoint effective practices for police-based victim services programs and to create national standards to guide their delivery. This forward-looking initiative devotes full-time attention and resources to identify and understand the methods and scope of current victim services programs in the United States and to support and promote new and innovative law enforcement efforts.
The ELEVATE initiative has three components.
- Program development standards: Such measures promote professional competency, consistency, and quality across police-based victim services efforts.
- National-level mentorship and shadowing: This effort provides agencies with professional guidance in building or growing a victim services capacity.
- Specialized training: These opportunities offer nuanced insight and application specific to the provision of victim services within a law enforcement environment.
This effort uses the unique platform of the FBI as a national agency with strong, day-to-day partnerships with state, local, and tribal police departments to encourage and assist agencies in developing an effective and sustainable victim services capacity. Over the past 16 years, the FBI has built an enduring and robust program and understands the challenges and benefits.
ELEVATE constitutes a partnership between the FBI and a committed group of individuals who manage victim services programs in local, state, university, and tribal law enforcement agencies. To find out more about ELEVATE or to apply for participation in the mentorship and shadowing program, access its Justice Connect community on the Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP) or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.