The Two Rivers TRIAD in cooperation with the Two Rivers Police Department implemented the Victim Assistance Program on July 1, 1999. The development of this program came as a result of a drowning incident in Two Rivers and in that case and in many other sudden death cases preceding it, a void was recognized; a void between the needs of the family and the needs of law enforcement. This program assists family members of the victims of instances such as sudden deaths, drowning, and suicides. Victim Assistance Volunteers work with surviving family members to provide emotional support, help in the exchange of information, or assist in contacting family members.
The Two Rivers Police Department is required to respond to incidents such as sudden deaths, drowning, and suicides as a part of the normal operations of police service. In each of these cases, police officer(s) are assigned to investigate. In many cases however, the survivor is elderly, faces many obstacles, or may have questions regarding procedures. Survivors may not understand the investigative process or what needs to be done and may find themselves alone or without other family. The police officers find themselves split between the requirements of their investigation and the needs and questions of the survivors. This is where the Victim Assistance Program is a valuable resource. When the officer determines there is a need for assistance, a victim assistance volunteer is notified and responds to help the family.
Victim Assistance Volunteers are on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Volunteers carry a cellular phone that is used to notify the member that the police department and surviving family members are requesting their assistance. Upon notification, the volunteer contacts police dispatch and is provided with information and directions to the scene. Once the volunteer arrives, he/she works with the victim(s) to give that emotional support that is so important during these critical times. Volunteers assist in exchanging information between the police or other agencies and family. In many cases volunteers also assist in contacting other family members. Victim Assistance Volunteers who are on-call are provided with a resources kit that assists them in carrying out their duties
Victim Assistance Program members have received training on how to handle the various cases in which they may be called upon to assist. Volunteers receive at least eight hours of initial training with periodic refresher training. Some of the guidelines the volunteers must follow are that they: be compassionate; be good listeners; must never offer advice; are not prejudice; and, most importantly, that they keep matters in confidence. What is seen or heard by a victim assistant during the course of their assistance efforts is held in strict confidence.
If you would like more information on the Victim Assistance Program or are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact the Two Rivers Police Department at (920) 793-1191, TRPOLICE@two-rivers.org, or TRIAD@two-rivers.org.