The Victim Assistance Program is a unit within the Investigations Division of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. The unit responds to victims of violent crime and/or their families, victims in crisis, and family survivors in cases of violent and sudden death. Victim advocates provide 24 hour, 7 day a week on-call assistance. Victim advocates are non-sworn, civilian employees and volunteers of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office who are available 365 days a year. These advocates provide outreach and assess the needs of victims, provide information and referrals about resources in the community, victims’ compensation benefits, and education and awareness of victims’ rights. Advocates work in cooperation with other community service provider agencies.
Victim assistance is available to any person who is a victim of the following crimes and crises occurring within the jurisdiction of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office:
- Sexual Assault
- Domestic Violence
- Child Physical Abuse/Child Sexual Assault
- S.I.D.S. (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Traffic Fatalities
- Unattended death (Physician not present at the time of death)
Victim Advocacy Services
Services are based upon need and delivered without discrimination of age, race, gender, or religion. It is the victim’s right to request or refuse these services.
Victim advocates provide information and referrals to appropriate county agencies. In addition to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office advocates work in conjuction with:
- Fountain Police Dept.
- Manitou Springs Police Dept.
- Colorado Springs Police Dept.
- Colorado State Patrol
- District Attorney Victim/Witness Program (4th Judicial District)
- Other community agencies
Crisis Support Team
Several members of the Victim Assistance Program staff, paid and volunteer, also provide services to emergency service first responders and their families in times of crisis or immediately after a critical incident. Trained advocates can also assist with stress management debriefings through the Southern Colorado Crisis Support Team. Information on Crisis Support Teams locally and statewide can be obtained at (719) 576-1200 or Southern Colorado CST.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office Victim Assistance Program receives funding from a multitude of sources. Of the three paid staff, only the program coordinator’s salary is funded by El Paso County. One full-time victim advocate’s wages are paid for by VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) funds, which are fines collected in the form of victim compensation from defendants at the federal level. The other full-time victim advocate’s wages are paid for by VALE (Victim Assistance and Law Enforcement) funds, which are also fines collected from defendants at the state and local levels. The program’s day-to-day operational expenses to include: pagers, cell phones, printing, desk top supplies, training expenses and other program needs, are also covered by VALE funds.
In 2009, the Victim Assistance Program staff, paid and volunteer, assisted 3,975 primary and secondary victims. This included 232 on-scene assists, 8,620 victim contacts by telephone, in writing, or in person and a total of 10,335 referrals for counseling, victims’ compensation, safe housing and other community resources.
The Victim Assistance Program is staffed with three civilian employees and twenty-four trained and dedicated volunteers. Volunteer advocates gave 15,691 hours of service in 2007. Individuals interested in becoming a volunteer advocate must attend the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Volunteer Victim Advocate Recruit Academy. Classes are generally held every two years and are approximately eighty hours in length.
- Victim advocate volunteers must submit an application to the Victim Assistance Program Coordinator, or to HR/Volunteer Coordinator, complete the Volunteer Victim Advocate Recruit Academy, and commit one year to the program following the academy.
- Applicants must also successfully pass a background check with criminal history, provide personal references and must pass a CVSA (Computerized Voice Stress Analysis.)
- Victim advocate volunteers must complete a ride-along with patrol each year.
- Volunteer advocates are on-call approximately every four to six weeks for a week at a time depending on the number of active volunteers.
- Victim advocate volunteers must be at least 18 years of age.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer victim advocate, contact us at (719) 520-7272 or click here for more information on volunteering in other areas within the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Victim Assistance Program paid and volunteer advocates received the Donald R. Hekkers Community Service Award from the Colorado Springs Fire Department in January 2008. This award was directly related to extraordinary efforts, contributions to the community and service to others during the Castle West Apartment Fire.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Victim Assistance volunteer advocates received the 2008 Adult Group Service Award from the Center for Nonprofit Excellence in April 2008. The volunteer advocate group also received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation in April 2008.
The Victim Assistance Program will accept donations of new teddy bears and other new stuffed animals (six to eight inches in height) to be given to child victims and witnesses of physical and sexual abuse. These stuffed animals are made available to all patrol deputies, detectives and victim advocates. The Exchange Club of Colorado Springs annually donates funds for designated bears to be used by the Investigations Division.
If you wish to make a donation of a new stuffed animal, contact the Victim Assistance Program Coordinator at (719) 520-7272.
Colorado VINE – Victim Information and Notification Everyday
Colorado VINE provides crime victims and other community members peace of mind through knowing the status of their offender. VINE is a toll-free, anonymous, automated telephone service that provides victims of crime and the public two important features: information and notification.
For custody information, call VINE and follow the prompts. VINE will quickly tell the caller if the offender is still in custody, and the name and location of the facility where the offender is in custody. Anyone may call VINE to check on an offender’s custody status. Live operator assistance is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For notification callers may then choose to register for automated notification of changes that occur in an offender’s custody status. To register, callers simply enter the telephone number, including the area code, where they want to be reached. Callers will then be asked to enter a Personal Identification Number (PIN) for use during notification to confirm that the message was received. More information on VINE can be found at 1-888-CO3-VINE or www.vinelink.com.
National Victims’ Rights Week
Every year in April, National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is recognized and celebrated in various ways. Crime Victims’ Rights Week is to promote awareness of victims’ rights and to acknowledge those that have been victimized. In 2008, local victim service providers recognized National Crime Victims’ Rights Week with its first ever 5K Fun Run/1Mile Walk. For information on the 2009 Crime Victims’ Rights Week activities contact the Victim Assistance Program Coordinator at (719) 520-7272.
To find out more about the Technical Support Section, click on any of the links located below.