In Photo from left to Right: Governor Tom Corbett, Jennifer Storm, Executive Director, Dauphin County Victim/Witness Assistance Program, & Mark Zimmer, Chairman, PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency
Nominator: Jennifer Riley, Bravo Group
Award Recipient: Dauphin County Victim/Witness Assistance Program
For 27 years the Dauphin County Victim/Witness Assistance Program (VWAP) has excelled in meeting the needs of crime victims. VWAP strives to reduce the trauma of a crime by empowering and assisting crime victims, witnesses and significant others in reconstructing their lives through advocacy, support, information and referrals.
VWAP’s advocates are available 24/7 to serve approximately 6,000 victims annually by accompanying their clients to court, hospital visits, meetings with attorney’s and much more. VWAP is often used as a model for counties and communities nationwide who are interested in hearing about the agency’s successes, innovative programs or those who wish to start their own victim assistance program.
VWAP has started many innovative programs such as the Homicide Support Group which provides a safe outlet for families to share their experience, strength and hope. Another program which VWAP has created is the Kid’s Court Program. The program orients children and their family to the courtroom and process. VWAP’s staff will explain what will occur in the courtroom, the rules of the courtroom and how the children are involved in the case. VWAP has also created a Witness Relocation Program which assists in the relocation and protection of victims and witnesses in coordination with the PA Attorney General’s Office. Since 1984, VWAP has held an annual Homicide Remembrance Vigil for homicide victims families.
VWAP has collaborated with local police departments in Dauphin County to have victim advocates physically located within the departments to provide crime victims the opportunity to have contact with an advocate within 24 hours of the crime occurring. The advocates are located at the Harrisburg City, Derry Township, Lower Paxton Township, Northern Dauphin County and Swatara Township police departments, which share the cost of the advocate positions. The arrangement allows the advocates with full access to police reports as well as confidential access to the records management system in the county. VWAP is the only victim/witness agency with this comprehensive access.
On behalf of victims of crime and the victim service’s field, we thank the Dauphin County Victim/Witness Assistance program for its innovation, collaboration and unfailing commitment to victims of crime.