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Victim Services in Rural Law Enforcement

In rural areas, victims face additional obstacles that affect the availability, timeliness, and quality of victim services. These include long distances, geographic isolation, limited funding and resources, a lack of information about victimization, and social attitudes that may discourage victims from seeking help. Law enforcement officers are often the first individuals to approach victims after a crime, and they may be the only contact that victims have with the criminal justice system. In these rural communities where the resources that help victims begin the emotional, physical, and financial healing process are limited, law enforcement agencies need help identifying resources and promising practices that creatively and economically meet this need. In Fiscal Year 2002, OVC announced a competitive funding program called the Victim Services in Rural Law Enforcement Initiative. OVC selected the Alabama Attorney General's Office and the National Sheriffs' Association to develop and administer the 4-year initiative to integrate a strong victim assistance component into rural law enforcement agencies. In the first year of the initiative, each project will competitively select 10 rural sites to receive a grant to complete a planning process and community needs assessment. Subsequently, the sites will receive additional funding to develop or significantly enhance their ability to provide assistance to victims, including the first response to victims by law enforcement.

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