More than 3,800 victims and their families were helped by the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Victim Services program in 2015, according to a press release from DPS. The program was created in 1997 to offer assistance to victims of crimes and other trauma including non-crime related fatal crashes and disasters.
The DPS program offers 16 licensed behavioral health professionals and one victim assistance specialist. Fifteen of the professionals are located in regional and district DPS office so they can be co-located with commissioned personnel. Self-referrals to the program and other services are allowed regardless of whether the victims have reported the crime. Exceptions to this include mandatory reporting requirements pertaining to child abuse or abuse of elderly persons or those with disabilities.
DPS reports helping 3,877 new victims in 2015. Additionally in 2015, program members made 9,126 service contacts with victims. Among the crimes associated with cases were driving under the influence fatalities and injuries; other vehicular crimes including criminal negligent homicide and failure to stop and render air; homicide; sex offenses; and exploited, abused or endangered children.
Trauma-informed services offered by the DPS program include providing information and assistance related to state-mandated victim rights; specialized advocacy; assistance with applying for the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program; crisis support and safety planning; and providing trauma counseling, particularly in rural areas with limited resources.
The program primarily serves victims of incidents investigated by the Texas Highway Patrol, Texas Rangers and CID, but extends resources to local, state and federal criminal justice agencies.
For more information, go to dps.texas.gov/administration/staff_support/victimservices/pages/index.htm.