When Sheriff Clarmont took office in January 2001, one of his many goals was to create a Victim Services Unit. Sheriff Clarmont recognized the need for a specialized group of highly trained individuals, who could assist those individuals at the time of a crisis in their life. The Sheriff immediately began to research this very important endeavor. Through countless hours of volunteer training the unit was formed. The advocates work with Law-Enforcement, and all other emergency services.
What is the Victim Services Unit?
The Victim Services unit is a group of volunteers dedicated to helping victims cope with a crisis, or a crime against them. The volunteers are a cross-section of the community, that have been recruited through various community and service organizations. They are the helping hands of the police, fire and medical personnel – freeing emergency personnel to do their jobs without leaving the victim feeling forgotten, excluded or ignored.
The Victim Services Unit is Designed to:
1. Provide immediate comfort and help to the victims
2. Make referrals to appropriate agencies and services according to need.
3. Serve as a go-between for the victims, their families, scene officials and emergency service providers.
How It Works
The advocates are available 24 hours a day. Victim Service advocates are requested through the Cheboygan County Sheriff’s Department. Two advocates respond to any request for assistance. The advocates are available to respond to calls of: homicide, suicide, and natural deaths, fatal or natural disasters, drownings, auto and recreational vehicle accidents, and other catastrophes as needed. Advocates make initial contact with victims and families and place a follow-up call. They are not counselors and will not be involved in a long-term relationship.
In situations where there is a death, advocates may accompany deputies to the residence. The officers will make the death notification and leave when deemed appropriate. The advocates will remain with the family and help contact other family members, clergy, neighbors, friends, and may make initial contacts with the funeral home. The advocate will remain with the family until an adequate support group is in place.
Benefits to Emergency Personnel
By having the advocates present, emergency personnel will be able to return to the scene, perform follow-up, or complete the report. The program is designed to relieve some of the emotional stress from the emergency persons and provide emotional support for the families and victims.
All advocates complete training with the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association. Their purpose is to assist the Sheriff’s Office and the victims, not to gather information or serve as witnesses. The are equipped with various forms of identification which identifies them as members of the Cheboygan County Sheriff’s Department Victims Services Unit.
Advocates are motivated by a true desire to help people in times of need. They sincerely strive to treat victims and their families with dignity, compassion, concern and respect.
Confidentiality is required and strictly adhered to by all advocates. Information is shared with associate advocates ONLY in the event they need to assume responsibility for the case. Victims are informed that the one exception to this rule is that whatever they say can be repeated to the investigator in the event that it will help the case.
Advocates are very dedicated individuals. Their commitment is proven through the many hours of volunteer training they receive. They welcome and encourage your comments which might help future victims cope with a life altering crisis.