What happens to victims of violent crime after they make a report?
The Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office has a Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) on call 24/7, that respond to calls from local law enforcement agencies in Tom Green County. The unit provides assistance to victims of violent crimes or other crisis.
Texas requires all law enforcement agencies to have a liaison to assist and work with crime victims. In 1999, the Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office received a VOCA grant from the Office of the Governor to develop the Crisis intervention Unit. The program is now funded through grants from the Office of the Attorney General, Tom Green County and the City of San Angelo.
- On-scene assistance at a crime or accident scene 24 hours per day
- Explain and assist with application for Emergency Protective Order, in cases of Family or Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking (must be done before suspect is arraigned by magistrate)
- Accompaniment for victims at Emergency Room, Law Enforcement, and Court
- Referral of victims to appropriate area agencies for housing, medical, transportation, food, utilities, and clothing
- Inform victims of their rights and Crime Victims’ Compensation
- Assistance with Crime Victims’ Compensation application and services
- Liaison between victim and law enforcement on status of case
- Office maintained for walk-in victims at 3005 N Chadbourne
- Transport of victims to Family Shelter, Salvation Army, etc.
- Cell phones for victims to dial 911
- Assist officer in death notification and help survivor cope with trauma
- Limited funds for victim assistance (emergency shelter, transportation, food, etc.)
Victims of violent crimes who make a report to the Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office are subsequently contacted by phone, mail, or in person. The CIU informs victims about procedures, community resources and programs that may be available to assist them during the aftermath of a crime. Victims of violent crimes are usually eligible for financial assistance through Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund for expenses such as medical bills, counseling, lost wages, funeral expenses and other crime related expenses. The funding for Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund is derived from court costs generated by criminal convictions – without costs to taxpayers. CIU staff will be happy to assist you in completing an application and expediting the process.
Definition of "Family Violence"
"Family Violence" is defined in the Texas Family Code (Section 71.004) as:
(1) an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself;
(2) abuse, as that term is defined by Sections 261.001(1)(C), (E), and (G), by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household; or
(3) dating violence, as that term is defined by Section 71.0021.
NEVER TELL YOUR ABUSER YOU ARE LEAVING HIM/HER!
IT WILL BE THE MOST DANGEROUS TIME FOR YOU!
If possible, call the Crisis Intervention Unit to help you develop a personalized escape plan in advance.
Plan ahead for a quick escape:
1. Pack extra clothes and leave them with someone you trust.
2. Keep extra items in a safe place: (i.e. car keys, money, important papers – birth certificates, social security number, and financial papers).
3. Plan where you will go and how you will get there.
Example of an Escape Plan
Gather these important items:
Money, your checkbook, credit cards, ATM cards
Identification--driver's license, Social Security card, passport, green card, ID, work permit, etc.
Important papers such as your order of protection; divorce papers; school records; lease agreement, rental agreement, or house deed; and insurance papers (If you have an order of protection, keep it with you at all times).
Birth certificates - for you and your children
House, car, and work keys.
Jewelry / sellable items
Identify which door, window, stairwell or elevator offers the quickest way out of the home, and practice your route. If you or your children are in danger, call 911.
NOTICE TO ADULT VICTIMS OF FAMILY VIOLENCE
It is a crime for any person to cause you any physical injury or harm EVEN IF THAT PERSON IS A MEMBER OR FORMER MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD.
Please tell the investigating peace officer:
IF you, your child, or any other household resident has been injured; or
IF you feel you are going to be in danger when the officer leaves or later.
You have the right to:
ASK the local prosecutor to file a criminal complaint against the person committing family violence; and
APPLY to a court for a long-term protective order to protect you (you should consult a legal aid office, a prosecuting attorney, or a private attorney).
If a family or household member assaults you and is arrested, you may request that a magistrate's order for emergency protection be issued. Please inform the investigating officer if you want an order for emergency protection issued. The order for emergency protection will be in effect for 31 – 91 days. The officer will notify the Crisis Intervention Unit to meet with you and complete the application. The magistrate must receive the application prior to the suspect’s arraignment. You need not be present when the order is issued. You will not be charged a fee by a court in connection with filing, serving, or entering a protective order. If the suspect is not arrested, call the Crisis Intervention Unit for information on how to pursue an emergency protective order.
CALL THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS IF YOU NEED TO APPLY FOR A LONG-TERM PROTECTIVE ORDER:
Tom Green County Attorney Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit (for misdemeanor family violence assault charges) (325) 655-5757
District Attorney Victim Services (for felony family violence assault, sexual assault, or stalking) (325) 659-6583
Legal Aid of North West Texas (325) 653-6982
If you need a safe place to stay, call the ICD Family Shelter hotline at (325) 655-5774.
Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office
Crisis Intervention Unit Staff
3005 N Chadbourne
San Angelo, TX 76903
After hours: Call 325-655-8111 to ask dispatch to page on-call volunteers.
Rita Guthrie, CIU Coordinator
Rita has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Angelo State University. She developed the Crisis Intervention Unit in 1999, and has continued to run the unit since then. Rita is responsible for grant writing to support funding for the unit, as well as preparing reports for funding sources. She provides a 36-hour training program to new volunteers twice a year. She provides direct victim services through response to calls from law enforcement, as well as provides crisis counseling and other services in the office.
Sandra (Sandy) Elliott, Assistant Coordinator
Sandy accumulated 3 years of experience as a volunteer, before being hired as the Assistant Coordinator in 2005. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Angelo State University. Sandy is responsible for coordinating on-call volunteer shifts and assists in the training of new volunteers. She also provides direct victim services in the field and office.
The only way the CIU can be available to respond to calls for assistance 24/7 is with the help of local angels. They are called CIU Volunteers, and it takes very special, caring people to be willing to volunteer to respond to calls at any hour of day or night and go aid someone in need. Training is provided twice yearly and requires 36 hours of class-room involvement. For additional information on becoming a volunteer, call 325-658-3921.