Kentucky State Police recognize Crime Victims’ Rights Week
In honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 18-24), Gov. Andy Beshear and the Kentucky State Police (KSP) are raising awareness for victims’ rights and renewing the state’s commitment to serving all victims of crime. This year’s nationwide theme is ‘Support Victims, Build Trust, and Engage Communities.’
“This week of recognition reinforces our commitment to serve innocent victims who suffer emotionally, physically, and financially from criminal acts committed against them,” said Gov. Beshear. “Often, the healing process for a victim is ever-evolving and this week serves as a reminder to all those survivors that they are not forgotten.”
The governor said his administration is committed to providing direct services to victims and survivors of all types of crimes as they walk the path toward healing and recovery, holding offenders accountable and creating a Better Kentucky, so that all Kentuckians can experience safety and security within their homes and communities.
KSP employs one victim advocate at each of the agency’s 16 posts located throughout the commonwealth. The program, Victim Advocate Support Services (VASS) was established in 2019 and connects crime victims with an advocate to assist them with finding immediate resources, such as mental health services, crisis intervention, or legal support. These trained professionals also serve as liaisons between law enforcement and the victim, simultaneously helping victims navigate the system while allowing detectives to focus on the details of the case.
“KSP’s Victim Advocates are compassionate and consistent professionals for victims of crime. During the nationwide COVID-19 pandemic, they have remained a constant for individuals in need and we are proud of the work they continue to do,” said KSP Commissioner Phillip J. Burnett, Jr.
During the past year, KSP Victim Advocates have offered services and resources to victims of crime, both virtually and in person. The VASS program expanded its virtual services, making it a seamless transition to virtual service and outreach. Victim Advocates also collaborated with more agencies and organizations in order to meet the needs of clients and their community. From March through June 2020 the program served 398 individuals.
“When the pandemic hit, it required us to adjust and be flexible to meet the needs of our clients, especially when we couldn’t see them face-to-face,” said Mayfield Post Victim Advocate Melanie Turner. “It gave us the chance to grow and build better connections through other forms of communication. I believe moving forward, we can engage with more individuals, agencies, and organizations to make a bigger difference.”
The VASS project was established through grant funding from the Victims of Crime Act program, known as VOCA, administered by the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. For the 2020-2021 grant program year, the VASS program was awarded over one million dollars in federal grant funding, which allowed KSP to continue employing an advocate at each post and launch a statewide outreach program.
“The annual VOCA grant funding awarded by the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet allows KSP to continue putting vital services within reach of every survivor and victim of violent crime so they can strengthen their emotional, mental and physical well being in the aftermath of a crime,” said Cabinet Secretary Mary Noble. “Since the inception of the program, KSP Victim Advocates have assisted 1,054 crime victims receive the justice they deserve and reclaim their lives.”
In 2020, Gov. Beshear and the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet announced more than $37 million in VOCA grant funding to 133 crime victim service providers across Kentucky. To learn more, see the release sent on Oct. 14, 2020.
If you or someone you know needs assistance through the VASS program, please contact a local KSP post and request to speak to the victim advocate. To find the post nearest you, visit http://kentuckystatepolice.org/post-locations/.
For more information about the 40th anniversary of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, please visit the Office for Victims of Crime website.