The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced today that the DPS Victim Services program provided services to more than 3,800 victims and their family members throughout Texas in 2015. Created in 1997, the DPS program is designed to offer assistance to victims of crimes and other traumatic events, including non-crime fatal crashes and disasters.
“DPS has been entrusted with the enormous responsibility of protecting the public and combatting crime in Texas, and we are supremely aware that people’s lives are deeply affected by traumatic events and the very crimes we fight,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “The department’s Victim Services program is committed to empowering victims by providing them with support, information and assistance throughout the criminal justice process and beyond.”
The DPS program includes 16 licensed behavioral health professionals and one victim assistance specialist; 15 of which are regionally located in DPS regional and district offices so that they are co-located with commissioned personnel. Victims may self-refer to the program and obtain services even if they have not reported the crime (except for mandatory reporting requirements related to child abuse, abuse of the elderly or persons with disabilities).
In 2015, DPS Victim Services personnel assisted 3,877 new victims. Throughout the course of the year, program members also conducted 9,126 service contacts with victims. Of the victims served in 2015, the types of crimes associated with their cases include DUI-related fatalities and injuries; other vehicular crimes (criminal negligent homicide, failure to stop and render aid); homicide; sex offenses; exploited, abused or endangered children; and more.
The trauma-informed services offered by the DPS program personnel include:
- Providing information and assistance related to state-mandated victims’ rights.
- Providing specialized advocacy, which may include clarifying reporting options, helping victims work with the investigating law enforcement agency, providing information on the investigative process and criminal justice system, accessing other resources.
- Assisting individuals in applying for the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program.
- Providing crisis support and safety planning.
- Providing trauma counseling, particularly in rural areas where resources are limited.
DPS’ Victim Services program primarily serves victims of incidents investigated by Texas Highway Patrol, Texas Rangers and the Criminal Investigations Division. However, the program also extends its resources to local, state and federal criminal justice agencies.
For more information about the program and available services, see www.dps.texas.gov/administration/staff_support/victimservices/pages/index.htm.