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(File photo)
(File photo)

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


Mon, Apr 22nd 2024 02:00 pm

Submitted by the Erie County District Attorney’s Office

In observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 21-27, 2024), Acting District Attorney Michael J. Keane reminds residents that the work of the district attorney’s office has a dual focus: the pursuit of justice and providing supportive services to the victims of crime in Erie County.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) aims to raise awareness about issues that impact victims and inform the public about help available to people who have been impacted by crime. Since 1981, this annual campaign has been sponsored by The National Center for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, and Office of Justice Programs.

This year’s theme, “How would you help? Options, services, and hope for crime survivors,” focuses attention on how everyone, whether they are a friend, family member, community leader, victim service provider, criminal justice practitioner, etc., can help the victims of crime.

“I want the residents of Erie County to know that our office has a team of victim advocates who are available to help you, support you and protect you,” Keane said. “I encourage anyone who has been a victim to contact our office for more information on how we can help you recover from the often-traumatic experience of a crime.”

The Erie County District Attorney’s Office is a leading service provider for crime victims, witnesses and their families. The office’s victim/witness services bureau is comprised of advocates who provide support to all crime victims whether they have experienced a low-level offense or a violent crime such as homicide or sexual assault. Our victim advocates also receive specialized training to work with children who have additional rights as victims under the law.

The victim/witness services bureau offers support for individuals who have suffered trauma or loss associated with crime. Our advocates work directly with crime victims to explain their rights and the judicial process. The victim/witness services bureau provides many supportive options based on the wishes of the victim, which may include accompaniment to court proceedings, emotional counseling, safety planning and other services. Advocates can also provide referrals to outside agencies based on the specific needs of the victim.

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. Last year, the bureau provided 12,208 total units of service to crime victims in Erie County (excluding domestic violence survivor clients assisted by BE SAFE). In 2023, the bureau assisted a total of 1,508 victims of crime, which includes the families of 179 homicide victims (total number includes families of homicide victims who died in 2023 and years prior). To date, the bureau has assisted the families of 128 homicide victims in 2024.

Our advocates can help victims file eligible claims with the New York State Office of Victim Services, which may provide financial support for costs associated with a crime such as the replacement or repairs of essential personal property, loss of earnings or support, medical bills, counseling, crime scene cleanup or funeral expenses. Our advocates can 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 the offender’s upcoming parole hearings. Advocates also offer follow-up supportive counseling and case status updates through the post-conviction parole process.

The BE SAFE domestic violence victim advocacy program specializes in helping victims of domestic and intimate partner violence. While BE SAFE advocates primarily work with victims who are navigating the criminal justice process following the arrest of the offender, you do not need to have a pending criminal case to access services. In 2023, the six full-time victim advocates assigned to the BE SAFE program provided 14,010 total units of service to clients, which includes supportive counseling, safety planning, referrals, crisis intervention, transportation, translation services and assistance with eligible claims to the New York State Office of Victim Services.

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 office is committed to educating our community about the impact of crime and the best practices to assist victims who have suffered trauma, loss or other negative consequences as a result of their experience. The staff of the victim/witness bureau and BE SAFE domestic violence victim advocacy program provide training focused on victim-centered, trauma-informed support to law enforcement and the community.

Clients served by the Erie County DA’s Office in 2023

Total Number of Clients Served




Total Clients Served by Victim/Witness Services Bureau




Total Clients Served by BE SAFE




Victim/witness services bureau client data for 2023 (excludes domestic violence survivor clients)

Total Number of Clients Served




Total Units of Service Provided




Provided Information on Criminal Justice Process




Provided Information on Victims’ 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 & Assistance with Other Programs and Services




Assisted with Completion of Compensation Claims




Our office’s victim/witness services bureau provided 3,093 total units of service in the first quarter of 2024.

BE SAFE Domestic Violence Client Data for 2023 (domestic violence survivor 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 (phone & in-person)




Information & Referrals




In 2024, the BE SAFE domestic violence victim advocacy program provided 5,079 total units of service in the first quarter.

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 victim advocacy program and other local programs, call 716-858-4630 or visit www.erie.gov/besafe.

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