The Kent County Sheriff’s Office Victim Advocate Program is a group-dedicated men and women who assist law enforcement officers when tragic events occur. These volunteer advocates provide support and comfort to families when traumatic news is given.
They respond to fatal traffic accidents, homicides, suicides and other traumatic deaths. They fill a vital role by lending support to victims and survivors as they adjust to the initial shock of the loss of a loved one. They are trained to deal with the emotional needs of traumatized victims.
The advocates are an essential part in helping the victims and families of victims understand the circumstances that surrounded the traumatic event. They are trained to assist the families in making the decisions on whom they might contact for additional support. They stay with the victim until his or her own support system arrives. They make coffee, hold hands, and often offer a shoulder to cry on. They remain with the families long after the notifying police officer has gone.
The advocates work in teams of two. They commit to being on call for a week period. They are on call from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and for the night shift from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The advocates are contacted through the Kent County Dispatch Center, either by pager, cell phone or home phone. Dispatch will provide to them the basic information about the incident and they are told where to meet the officer.
Each advocate will go through a 20-hour in-house training process to help them in dealing with grief and its affect on people. The training is free and offered by the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. A new advocate will be assigned to a trained advocate for a three-month period. During this time, the new advocate will observe and have hands-on training.
If you would like to find out more about the Victim Services Unit, please contact Sandi Jones, Victim Services Coordinator, at (616) 632-6221.