A frantic or concerned call has been placed to 911 to report a crime. First responders are on their way. With a crime, it is natural to expect a police officer to be en route. However, there's another type of first responder likely on his or her way to the scene.
Victim advocates are a crucial first responder dispatched in many instances of crime.
In the confused aftermath of a crime, a victim is in an emotional turmoil. A victim advocate can bring a semblance of calm and compassion by helping the victim by providing support and an understanding of available resources.
Here's your chance to be one of those helpers.
The Colorado Springs Police Department is in search of volunteer victim advocates to assist those effected by crime. The Victim Advocacy Academy will begin training the next cohort of volunteer victim advocates on Oct. 4.
“While we are expecting approximately 20 new candidates, I would love to have 50 new ones to train,” said Victim Advocacy Unit Volunteer Specialist Sam McAfee-Acre.
McAfee-Acre stressed how much of an asset the volunteer advocates are to the law enforcement mission of CSPD.
This opportunity is for anyone 18 years and older to serve in this crucial role in law enforcement. Each candidate will have a background check and polygraph test as part of the qualification process.
The 72-hour course will meet twice per week for four hours with the graduation taking place after eight weeks of curriculum studies.
Classes will be conducted in four-hour increments on Monday and Thursday evenings. Participants will learn advocacy skills such as crisis intervention, community resources and Victim Advocate Unit operations.
Students will also learn about the operational units and functions of the CSPD. Additionally, there will ample opportunities for on-the-job training for the volunteers recruited to the unit.
The CSPD began the Victim Advocacy Academy in 2012, with advocates helping tens of thousands of victims over the years since inception. New victim advocates are asked to commit to one year, although many continue to serve for many years. One advocate who was in the original 2012 Victim Advocacy Academy is still serving.
Several others have moved on to careers in law enforcement after gaining experience as a victim advocate for CSPD.
To enroll in the VAU Volunteer Training Academy, complete an online application at springscaps.org. The deadline to apply is July 31.
For more information, call Victim Advocacy Unit Volunteer Specialist Sam McAfee-Acre at 719-444-7927.