While we proclaimed April 7-13 as Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the work continues year-round.
The state Legislature passed legislation in 1989 requiring crime victim liaisons in law enforcement agencies and victim assistance coordinators in prosecutor offices. Both the Williamson County attorney’s and district attorney’s offices have victim services departments.
In Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick’s office, there are three full-time victim assistance coordinators who serve and care for victims and survivors of crime and their families while their cases are pending. They support the victims from the beginning stages of a case through the remainder of the court proceedings, appeals, parole process and even beyond.
The four victim advocate coordinators of Williamson County Attorney Doyle “Dee” Hobb’s office act as guides and serve as resources through the complexities of the criminal justice system, from intake to the prosecution of their cases and even aftercare.
However, my focus for this piece is the Victim Assistance Unit, a division of the Williamson County sheriff’s office and the first point of contact when emergency responders request assistance at the scene of an emergency.
After police, firefighters or EMS conduct their initial investigation of a crime, they often leave for other calls.
Following a traumatic event, people often feel helpless, confused and emotionally shocked. The unit representatives remain with victims in the immediate aftermath to provide temporary support. Hannah Nestorick, director of the victim assistance program, and two staff members work closely with 21 volunteers from the community to provide that support.