SHERIFF TO PHASE OUT VICTIMS’ ASSISTANCE UNIT

SHERIFF TO PHASE OUT VICTIMS’ ASSISTANCE UNIT

Doña Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison has announced that his department will phase out it Victims’ Assistance Unit by June 30, 2009. The three affected employees are being encouraged to apply for other open positions within the department or elsewhere in Doña Ana County.

Garrison said he believes there are enough non-profit agencies serving the community to warrant the dissolution of the unit. He said officers in the field will be trained to determine which agency – La Casa, La Piñon, etc. – is best suited for the victim of any given circumstance, and how to proceed from that point forward.

“Victim assistance is a critical component of the law-enforcement and judicial process,” Garrison said. “We are fortunate in Doña Ana County to have several independent programs that offer excellent services and work exceedingly well with law enforcement. We’re going to utilize those partnerships to eliminate the duplication of services and apply more resources to our core mission.”

He said volunteers who assist his paid staff have indicated a willingness to shift their services and time contributions to non-profit agencies.

Garrison said he and his senior staff will carefully monitor the transition and the provision of services afterward. He said that if the need arises to resurrect the Victims’ Assistance Unit, he retains that option.

“The most important thing for victims of crimes in Doña Ana County to know,” he said, “is that this department is committed to making sure they receive the assistance they need and deserve. Partnering with local agencies, we believe we can move forward in a responsible and seamless fashion without compromising the level of compassionate assistance rendered to crime victims in this jurisdiction.”

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Reporters seeking more information or interviews may call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (575) 525-5801.