Victim Services Unit
The Van Buren County Victim Services Unit is a trained volunteer group under the direction of the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office, the Michigan Sheriff's Association and the Coordination of Deanne Polomcak and Neva Carey. Dedicated to helping victims, survivors and their loved ones work through a crisis or crime, they are the helping hands of the police, fire and medical personnel.
The Victim Services Unit frees authorities to do their job without leaving victims alone or feeling ignored. The objective of the unit is to assist and their efforts are focused on avoiding further victimization. The unit is designed to comfort and help victims immediately after an incident by providing short-term crisis intervention. Having no personal reference for traumatic events, most victims feel lost and in need of guidance. They can offer answers to such common questions as what happens next, funeral preparations, why an autopsy is needed, why a crime scene takes so long to process and who will guide them through the court system. Referrals can also be made to appropriate agencies and services within the community.
On scene, the Victim Services Unit plays a vital role by lending support and assisting victims and witnesses through the initial shock of trauma. The Unit can separate victims from the scene of an investigation while maintaining a link to officers for the victim's questions and concerns. At a secondary site, they can stay after officers leave, working to pull a support system of close friends, family or church personnel into place.
WHEN TO REQUEST THEIR SERVICES
- Homicide, suicide or any death or serious injury
- Traffic Accidents or other traumatic events
- Criminal Sexual Conduct
- Breaking and entering (especially senior citizens)
- Death notifications
- House Fires
- Natural Disasters
- Lost children
- SIDS deaths
- Natural deaths
- Whenever requested
HOW TO REQUEST THE VSU
Victim Services Unit volunteers can be requested by any police department, fire department or hospital within the county, or by volunteers themselves. They will respond, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to the scene, police agencies or other locations. To request the VSU, contact the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office Dispatch at (269) 657-3101.
MICHIGAN CRIME VICTIM NOTIFICATION NETWORK
The Michigan Crime Victim Notification Network is a service through which victims of crime can use the telephone or internet to search for information regarding their offender's custody status and register to receive telephone and e-mail notification when the offender's custody status changes. This service is brought to you by the Michigan Department of Community Health, Crime Victim Services Commission.
Click here to register for notification from the Michigan Crime Victim Notification Network.
Contact the Michigan Crime Victim Notification Network at 1-800-770-7657.
VSU VOLUNTEERS TRAINING AND APPLICANTS
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please review the training and skills below. You will also be able to download and fill-out an application form below. To download the form, you will need Acrobat Reader on your computer. You can also email the unit with questions, comments, or concerns if needed at the following address: Click here to send us an email.
- Applicants must pass a background check
- Live in Van Buren County
- Have your own transportation
- Successfully complete a 20 hour training program to be certified by the Michigan Sheriff's Association
- Able to be on call 5-8 twelve-hour shifts per month
- Ability to get along well with people
- Ability to communicate effectively
- Willingness to learn
- Open, non-judgmental attitude, regardless of circumstances and victim's race, religion, age or national origin
- Ability to think clearly under pressure and respond accordingly in a sound, professional manner
- Exude genuine concern and empathy for victims, witnesses and their families.
- Self directed and motivated
- Ability to be assertive when necessary; passive when necessary and the common sense to know when each is required.
- Ability to relate well to child victims.