Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

Erie County District Attorney's Office observes National Crime Victims' Rights Week


Mon, Apr 24th 2023 11:45 am

Advocates from victim/witness services bureau, BE-SAFE Domestic Violence Victim Advocacy Program are available to assist victims of all crimes

Submitted by the Erie County District Attorney’s Office

In observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 23-29), District Attorney John J. Flynn reminds residents of Erie County that his office is available to provide support to victims of crime.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) aims to raise awareness about issues that affect victims, and to remind the public about resources to help those who have been impacted by crime.

Since 1981, this annual campaign has been sponsored by the National Center for Victims of Crime, Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs and the U.S. Department of Justice.

This year’s theme, “Survivor Voices: Elevate. Engage. Effect Change,” seeks to amplify the voices of survivors and create environments where survivors have the confidence that they will be heard, believed and supported. NCVRW provides an opportunity for crime victims to share their experiences, connect with services, and receive necessary support as they move through the criminal justice process.

“I want the residents of Erie County to know that my office wants to help you and protect you. I encourage anyone who has been a victim of a crime to contact the victim/witness services bureau to inquire about available services,” Flynn said.

The Erie County District Attorney’s Office is a leading provider of support for crime victims, witnesses and their families. The office’s victim/witness services bureau is comprised of advocates who provide support for all victims from low-level offenses to those who have been affected by more serious crimes such as homicide, domestic violence and sexual assault. Our victim advocates also receive specialized training to work with children who have additional victims’ rights under the law.

The victim/witness services bureau provides support for those who have suffered trauma or loss associated with being the victim of a crime. In addition to informing about their rights, our advocates work directly with crime victims by helping them understand the judicial process. Our advocates accompany victims to court proceedings, and offer supportive counseling and safety planning. Victim advocates can also provide referrals to outside agencies for additional resources.

The victim/witness services bureau is comprised of nine full-time employees, which is funded through a grant from the New York State Office of Victim Services. In 2022, the bureau assisted a total of 1,367 victims of crime, which includes the families of 154 homicide victims. To date, the bureau has assisted the families of 103 homicide victims this year (total number includes families of homicide victims who died in 2022 and years prior). In 2022, approximately 10,466 total units of service were provided to crime victims in Erie County.

Our advocates can assist victims in filing claims with the New York State Office of Victim Services, which may provide financial support for the costs associated with crime such as the replacement or repairs of essential personal property, loss of earnings or support, medical bills, counseling, crime scene clean-up or funeral expenses. Our advocates also assist victims and the families of homicide victims in filing their contact information with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to be notified of upcoming parole hearings.

Within the victim/witness services bureau, there are advocates who specialize in helping victims of domestic violence. While the BE-SAFE Domestic Violence Victim Advocacy Program primarily works with victims who are navigating the criminal justice process, you do not need to have a pending case against the offender to access services.

In 2022, BE-SAFE advocates provided 18,032 total units of service to clients. Those services include supportive counseling, safety planning, referrals, hotline assistance, crisis intervention, transportation, translations and applications for compensation through the New York State Office of Victim Services. Of those served last year, 1,907 individuals were new to the program.

Crime victims have a right to be protected from threats, physical injury and other forms of intimidation. In addition to offering advice on how to protect yourself, prosecutors can request an order of protection through the court. In certain cases, witnesses and victims can obtain assistance to relocate for their safety. Witness intimidation is a crime and our office may prosecute the offender(s) if you are threatened or harassed.

Our victim advocates provided specialized support after the tragedy at Tops Friendly Markets on Jefferson Avenue in the City of Buffalo last May. Immediately after the attack, the Erie County DA’s Office recognized the need to enhance our victim advocacy approach in order to most effectively assist the families of the 10 deceased victims, the three injured survivors, and numerous people who were present, but not injured during the mass shooting. Also, we recognized that our community may experience trauma and fear, as the shooting was quickly determined to be a racially motivated attack that targeted people of color.

Within 24 hours after the tragedy, our office and our partners received support from the FBI victim services division and New York State Office of Victim Services to establish a centralized resource center for the victims, witnesses and community. The resource center, later established as the Buffalo United Resiliency Center, was created to identify witnesses to the mass shooting while providing on-site trauma counseling, assistance with property retrieval of personal items left at the crime scene, and referrals to other services. Due to the temporary closure of the grocery store during the investigation, we partnered with numerous governmental agencies, businesses and nonprofit organizations to help the community obtain emergency food and access banking services, utility payments, health insurance, etc.

Throughout the prosecution of our criminal case against the gunman, our team of victim advocates provided ongoing support to the families of the deceased and surviving victims. In addition to explaining the judicial process, our advocates accompanied the families and the survivors to court proceedings and meetings with our prosecution team. Our victim advocates also helped file claims for funeral expenses, and offered referrals for housing, grief counseling, emergency food and other services as needed. Our office also provided on-site trauma counselors both inside and outside the courtroom on the day the gunman pleaded guilty to the state charges and was sentenced to life without parole.

For more information on the Erie County District Attorney’s Office victim/witness services bureau, call 716-858-4640 or visit https://www4.erie.gov/da/victimwitness-services-bureau.

For more information on the BE-SAFE Domestic Violence Advocacy Program and other local programs, call 716-858-4630 or visit www.erie.gov/besafe.

To learn more about crime victim rights, visit the New York State Office of Victims Services website: https://ovs.ny.gov/.

Clients Served by the Erie County DA’s Office in 2022

Total Number of Clients Served




Total Clients Served by V/W Services Bureau




Total Clients Served by BE-SAFE




Victim/Witness Services Bureau Client Data for 2022 (excludes DV clients)

Total Number of Clients Served




Total Units of Service Provided




Provided Info on Criminal Justice Process




Provided Info on Victim Rights




Criminal Court Advocacy/Accompaniment (phone & in-person)




Provided Notification on Criminal Justice Events




Assisted with Submission of Victim Impact Statements




Individual Supportive Counseling




Advocacy and Assistance with Other Programs and Services




Assisted with Completion of Compensation Claims




Our office’s victim/witness services provided 3,250 units of service in the first quarter of 2023.

BE-SAFE Domestic Violence Client Data for 2022 (DV clients only)

Total Number of New Clients Served




Total Units of Service Provided




Safety Plans Reviewed/Initiated




Phone Legal Advocacy




In-person Court Advocacy




Supportive Counseling (both phone and in-person)




Information & Referrals




 In 2023, the BE-SAFE advocacy program provided 5,079 units of service in the first quarter.

Hometown News

View All News