Mayor Joseph L. Adams

Victim Service Unit Domestic Violence Program

In 1986, the University City Police Department began a program to provide services to senior citizens of University City who had been victims of crime. As the program progressed, the focus changed and the department was able to identify other victim groups, such as domestic violence victims, that were in need of services. The Domestic Violence Program was integrated into the Victim Service Unit due to the increasing number of reported domestic violence cases.

In addition to domestic violence assault cases, this unit has been providing services to victims of other domestic violence incidents such as peace disturbance, stalking, harassment by telephone or mail, vandalism, etc., that are perpetrated by a family member. University City police officers continue to provide an informational sheet to victims of domestic violence, as required by state law, at the time of the original call. This is accomplished by use of the Adult Abuse Information Sheet developed by the Victim Service Unit. In addition, officers provide victims of domestic violence with a "Victim Notification Request Form," which affords the victim the option of being notified upon release of the suspect involved in the incident.

Under the program, victim advocates respond to sexual assaults occurring within the city of University City. Also, victim advocates respond to area hospitals for rape response and provide crisis intervention. This part of the program has proved to be of great value not only to victims, but also to investigating officers.

The procedure for victim advocate contact with victims of domestic violence is as follows. As soon as a police report is received, an informational letter is mailed by a victim advocate to the victim to inform them of available services. The letter notifies the victim of a follow-up telephone call to be made by the assigned victim advocate. Telephone contact is made to the victim within 48 hours. Frequent telephone contacts are also made to assess progress and the victim's needs. Victims who are eligible for victims' compensation receive all necessary forms by mail. Assistance is also provided on instruction in completion of the forms, as well as follow-up telephone calls to ensure the victim did receive and complete the forms. Continued service is provided for rape crisis intervention. Survival services begin at the time of the death notification and include hospital (or morgue) accompaniment, assistance with notification of other family members, assistance in contacts with funeral homes, and assistance in making application for victim compensation benefits. Also, the advocate explains the criminal justice system and the investigative process. The Victim Service Unit will, upon request, assist in control of media access. Once a case is presented to the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney and warrant(s) issued, the advocate continues to make referrals to the Victim Service Council so the victim can receive services at the state level.

The Victim Service Unit has begun incorporating monthly support meetings into the domestic violence program. The purposes of the support group is to provide an opportunity for the victims to meet the advocates in person, answer questions and concerns, provide immediate referrals, and allow participants to meet other victims of crime. An informational letter is mailed to victims on an on-going basis to introduce the support group and its purpose. An established time is included in the letter with an invitation to attend. The meetings are held at an accessible location in University City during evening hours.

The unit also sponsors seminars and workshops on such issues as domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse, child abuse, the legal system, etc. The victim advocates, supervisor, and subject matter experts are utilized as speakers for these events. The workshops are conducted annually, or as requested.

CONTACT: Sergeant Carol Young, 6801 Delmar Boulevard, University City, MO 63130, Telephone - (314) 725-2211, Fax - (314) 863-0924.

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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