Victims of violent crime in Grand Rapids, Michigan can take comfort in a new initiative by the Grand Rapids Police Department. The Grand Rapids Police Department has received a grant in the amount of $429,986 and will use this grant to help the victims of violent crimes.
Grand Rapids has a major shortage in the percentage of victims receiving proper services (over 50% of victims of violent crimes have no access to these services). This is why the Police Department is using these funds to create a relevant program and corresponding position aimed at closing the gap between number of victims, and the number of victims receiving proper assistance to help deal with these violent crimes.
The Grand Rapids Police Department is using these funds to create a victim services program, aimed at helping victims gain access to services that they need in order to recover from the pain and suffering that they have endured as a result of the crime committed against them.
The program and a position for a victim services coordinator will be fully funded by this grant, and the City of Grand Rapids, as well as the police department. They will be able to judge the effectiveness of this program over the next few years to see if it is truly helpful to the community and consider any further measures that could be taken.
According to Sgt. John Wittkowski of the Grand Rapids Police Department, the police department had been looking at organizing and implementing such a program for years but was unable to do so due to a lack of funding. Sgt Wittkowsky went on to say that police officers had seen a significant issue with victims of crimes being unable to receive resources and support that they needed. The creation of this civilian position within the police department would allow the department to provide critical services to victims as well as to direct them to any resources they might require not available directly through the department.
There are existing local resources for victims, specifically for those who have been the victim of sexual assault or domestic violence, as well as a unit within the Kent County court system that helps guide victims through the court system. These services unfortunately expose a problem that exists within the system.
There is a gap that exists between the crime being committed and the actual judicial process, and that is where victims are not receiving services they may desperately need like counseling. And the new victim services program will focus exclusively on victims who are not receiving services from any other community agency, which the department hopes will make the best use of the funds.
The victim services coordinator position which was created during the Fiscal Year 2020 budget process was originally one position, created by the city of Grand Rapids. When the Grand Rapids Police Department secured this grant from the Department of Justice, they were able to split the role into two positions. The positions will be victim advocate and police wellness coordinator.