The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office victim services is participating in National Crime Victim’s Rights Week with displays in the rotunda of the Niagara County Courthouse and the first floor of the Niagara Falls Municipal Building.
Niagara County Victim Services Coordinator Stacy Suess said the victim assistance unit, in conjunction with Child Advocacy Center of Niagara, Pinnacle Community Services, and YWCA of Niagara Frontier, will be providing information about programs and community resources available to crime victims. The displays will be staffed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 28. The courthouse is at 175 Hawley St., Lockport; the municipal building is at 1925 Main St., Niagara Falls.
According to Suess, victim services’ primary mission is to provide comprehensive, specialized services that are tailored to the specific needs of victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse (both physical and sexual), surviving family members of homicide victims, assault, robbery, DWI, arson, elder abuse, human trafficking and property crimes. The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office victim services employs six full-time crime victim advocates to assist crime victims throughout Niagara County through the victim assistance unit and domestic violence intervention program.
“Victims of crime often feel isolated and are not sure where they can turn for help,” Suess said. “We have programs and resources available to help crime victims address whatever their particular circumstances may be. The most important message we can deliver to crime victims and their families is do not suffer in silence; seek out the services that are here for you.”
Comprehensive direct services have been provided to crime victims in Niagara County since 1989. The advocates work as a liaison between the victim and law enforcement and the district attorney’s office to make the criminal justice process easier to navigate. Advocates meet these needs by offering:
√ Outreach to explain VAU services and office of victim services compensation. OVS offers compensation for medical expenses, counseling expenses, funeral costs, loss of wages, and essential personal property to eligible crime victims
√ Home/hospital/off-site visits (to assist in filing OVS compensation claims, supportive counseling and follow up services)
√ Transportation and accompaniment to police interviews, court proceedings and medical examinations at the Child Advocacy Center (CAC), criminal justice and support and advocacy
√ Referrals to appropriate service providers
√ Advocacy on the victim’s behalf with other agencies such as OVS, courts, law enforcement, district attorney's office, insurance companies, medical providers, and employers
√ Crisis intervention provided at the crime scene or hospital (24 hour on-call availability)
√ Telephone and in-person crisis counseling
√ Early intervention and safety planning
Suess encouraged crime victims, their families and anyone else interested in these services to visit the display this week. Advocates can also be reached in Lockport at 716-438-3306 or 716-438-3301, and Niagara Falls at 716-286-4570, ext. 2 or ext. 3.