The State of Texas requires all police departments to have a Crime Victim's Liaison to assist and work with crime victims. In 2002, the City received its first Victim Assistance Discretionary Grant (VADG) from the Office of the Attorney General to operate this program. The program has been run continuously since then and the department takes pride in the work of the dedicated Crime Victim Liaisons.
The Victim Assistance Program also receives funding from the Office of the Governor's Criminal Justice Division 'Victims of Crime Act' (VOCA). With two full-time liaisons on staff, victims will receive information at the initial contact or as soon as possible thereafter, whereas before, the PD's detective staff juggled victim's needs along with their regular duties.
The goal of the Victim Assistance Program is to assist victims of crime, protect and advocate the rights of victims, provide necessary information, and prevent further victimization. Crime victims who make a police report are subsequently contacted by phone, mail or in person. The liaisons inform victims about police procedures, community resources, and available programs that will assist victims during the aftermath of a crime. The liaisons are also on call to respond to after-hour emergencies, and to provide assistance.
Oftentimes, crime victims want to know what will happen next, and the liaisons are available to answer those questions. Crime Victim liaisons provide case status updates, information about the criminal justice system, court and hospital accompaniment, and emergency transportation to women shelters.
Depending on the type of crime that has occurred, victims can receive information on shelters, counseling services or referrals to support and social service agencies. The liaisons can also assist with information about parole notification and assist with a parole protest.
The liaisons may also contacts crime victims to determine their eligibility for financial assistance when they have exhausted their own financial resources. The Crime Victims' Compensation Fund - paid out of court costs generated by criminal convictions - provides for medical bills, counseling, lost wages, funeral expenses and other crime related expenses without any cost to taxpayers.