In 1998, the Hazelwood Police Department obtained a C.O.P.S. grant through the U.S. Department of Justice. The grant was used to hire a social worker to develop a specialized unit within the department to provide comprehensive services and support to victims of violent crime.
The Crime Victims and Domestic Violence Unit is responsible for the development and coordination of the department’s crime victim’s assistance program and other related programs to assist all victims of crime who come in contact with the Hazelwood Police Department.
This unit works in conjunction with domestic violence organizations to identify programs which aid victims and/or reduce the incidents of domestic violence. Likewise, the unit is designed to work closely in conjunction with the commissioned officers who respond to domestic violence incidents to ensure that victims receive extensive follow up services and protection efforts. The additional benefit is that supported victims who feel safe will be better able to work with law enforcement and the courts to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions through effective prosecution.
In keeping with the initial goals developed at the onset of the program the services provided by the Crime Victim and Domestic Violence Unit Coordinator, the uniformed officers, detectives and other police personnel are extensive and comprehensive. Those services include crisis intervention by the responding officers and whenever possible follow up with victims within a 20 hour period—ideally while the suspect is incarcerated.
Although a large percentage of victimization was—and still is—domestic related, this program’s mandate was to provide services to victims of all violent crimes. Victims of domestic violence crimes, however, tend to utilize the services of the Crime Victims and Domestic Violence Unit for longer periods of time than victims of other violent crimes. Additionally, domestic violence victims require more extensive court advocacy in civil court proceedings and longer term assistance due to continued exposure to the perpetrator through child visitation. Victims of domestic crimes are also at risk for exposure to relationships with future predators and therefore will access the services of the unit for assistance with those future offenders.