The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), within the U.S. Department
of Justice, provides federal funds to support victim assistance
and compensation programs around the country and advocates for
the fair treatment of crime victims.
Through its Community Crisis Response (CCR) program, OVC funds
services to communities that have suffered crimes resulting in
multiple victimizations or community-wide trauma. Historically,
OVC, through the CCR program, responded to communities in crisis
by training local service providers and deploying crisis response
teams. For example, OVC's CCR program promptly deployed crisis
response teams to Oklahoma City after the 1995 terrorist bombing
of the Alfred P. Murrah federal Building; to Jonesboro, Arkansas,
after four students and a teacher were killed in a 1998 school
shooting; and, to Salt Lake City, Utah, after the 1999 fatal shooting
that killed two people and injured several others in a Family
In the past, OVC's goal was to provide short-term training and
technical assistance to communities in crisis. However, experience
has demonstrated that every community would benefit greatly by
having its own extensive community-based response plan.
Today, OVC is working to help states and communities accomplish
this by helping them prepare crisis response plans that include
local and state-based emergency counseling and intervention and
long-term mental health services for victims and surviving family
members. Many states and communities already have the personnel,
resources, and teams to effectively respond to major crises, so
OVC is encouraging them to develop or enhance their own integrated
response plans to ensure victims are provided long-term services.
Through training and technical assistance, OVC can help local
teams mobilize. OVC recently did this in Yosemite and Eureka,
California, after two teenage girls and a mother disappeared while
on vacation and in Springfield, Oregon, and Littleton, Colorado,
where hundreds witnessed the brutal murders of a teacher and classmates.
Many states have devised and implemented centralized crisis response
plans. A community may already have many resources, such as mental
health and victim services, emergency preparedness support, the
clergy, and search and rescue services. When a crisis occurs in
a community, OVC encourages the community to first contact their
state VOCA (Victims of Crime Act of 1984) administrator who will
determine whether existing resources can be pooled to provide
the necessary services.
In cases when a state cannot provide the needed immediate assistance,
OVC will continue to accept requests for training and technical
assistance from eligible agencies, including victims service agencies;
federal, tribal, state, and local criminal justice system agencies;
and other agencies that regularly assist victims of violent crime.
OVC can still mobilize crisis response teams to communities in
need after reviewing and evaluating the request for assistance,
taking into consideration the potential impact of assistance,
the need for federal support, OVC's ability to respond, and the
clarity of the request. Send requests for assistance to:
Crisis response should be rapid and effective as well as long-term
and sustaining. To this end, OVC is coordinating with nationally
recognized mental health and emergency preparedness experts to
devise a strategy to help states develop and implement their own
centralized crisis response plans. OVC also plans to conduct a
series of regional seminars and training courses to train local
crisis response teams to respond to needs in their communities.
states and local communities are encouraged to formulate and perform
test-runs of crisis response plans similar to those for natural
disasters such as earthquakes, floods, fires, and hurricanes.
states and communities should identify mental health experts within
each community. states should coordinate as much information as
possible to maximize access to resources in a crisis. Several
states have already undertaken these activities. OVC encourages
communities to find out more information about their community
crisis response plans by contacting their state VOCA administrators.
For contact listings, visit http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/help/links.htm.
For More Information
For more information about the Community Crisis Response program,
Office for Victims of Crime
U.S. Department of Justice
810 Seventh Street NW., Eighth Floor
Washington, DC 20531
Web site: www.ovc.gov/
For copies of this fact sheet, other
OVC publications, or information on additional victim-related
resources, please contact