Violent Crime Victim Services is an advocate organization that provides direct services to families and friends of homicide victims. Twenty-one years ago the non-profit organization began in Tacoma by Lew Cox, executive director/advocate after his daughter, Carmon Cox, was murdered. According to the Violent Crime Victim Services brochure, services to co-victims of homicide include:
- Initial contact: prosecutors, homicide detectives, counselors, hospitals, churches, and funeral homes make co-victims aware of victim services.
- Crisis intervention: A crisis intervention meeting is provided to family and friends of the crime victim, including…an explanation of a police investigation, the criminal justice system, victim’s rights, the bereavement process, and Crime Victims Compensation.
- Judicial Proceedings: Advocate will accompany co-victims to judicial proceedings, trials, and sentencing.
- Support Groups: Peer support groups provide a safe place for co-victims to discuss their concerns, frustrations, grief, and to learn coping skills.
- Referrals to: Grief counselors, civil attorneys for crime victims, and the faith community.
Lew revealed what many people may not know about Violent Crime Victim Services, “One thing people are not aware of is that we exist, until they’ve had a tragedy of someone being murdered in their family. Nobody is looking for us until that happens. The public at large does not know that we exist.
People become members of the Violent Crime Victim Services when they’ve asked for services and our services are at no charge, but we do take donations; that’s how we exist.
Funding comes from individuals; many of the people benefit from the support we get from churches, grants, and foundations. People make contributions through United Way campaigns which are through their payroll deductions.”
Lew also commented: “I just finished a 32-hour victim advocate training last week that I facilitated and have guest speakers. I teach three-quarters of it. The class is open to victim advocates, chaplains, therapists, and law enforcement.
My next class offering is in mid-spring, late May or early June. It’s the same 32-hour victim advocate training. Call the office for more information at: 253 383-5254.”
For more information about Violent Crime Victim Services, please visit: vcvs.org.
“Through 2011, the homicide rate in the U.S. has been at an all time low in the last 40 years, however in 2012; the homicide rate has spiked and is now up 17% across U.S.
That is a definite reflection of the amount of homicides we’ve been experiencing in Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia area. Our offices had an extreme spike request for services in 2012.
We have a chapter in Olympia that covers five counties. Our director, Terrie Noble is at our chapter in Olympia,” Lew concluded.
By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com