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Empowerment Through Information: The Role of Technology in Victim Care

Survivors of crime have rights and laws to keep them from feeling isolated, silenced, or ignored. These codes and regulations can help victims through the healing process as well as navigate the criminal justice system. Public safety agencies have a duty to provide some aspects of crime victim care, such as delivering information about their case or helpful community resources.

Many of these rights including notifications, being treated with fairness and respect, and being reasonably heard at any public proceeding, are mandated at the federal or state level. For example, the Offices of the United States Attorneys specifies that crime victims have “The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.”

Traditionally, investigation and case communications have been in person, by phone, postal mail, or emails. The way we send and receive information has shifted due to generational and technological changes. Studies have shown that people prefer texts over emails and phone calls are less likely to be answered. This evolution in public expectations for near-immediate service and communication preferences have created some gaps in providing important updates, care, and services to crime victims. New public safety solutions are working to improve communications and foster trust.

Solving Communication Challenges in Victim Care

One of the biggest concerns for victims is staying informed about their case. They need basic information about the investigation, such as their report number, detective’s name, or court dates. These facts are also a right, and in some states, required by law. Yet, this fundamental information can be difficult to obtain, leading to frustration and a sense of helplessness.

New public safety technology solutions help crime victims receive the details they need to feel informed and empowered. Delivering information in a preferred format, such as text messaging, reduces the number of calls crime victims must make to law enforcement or other agencies to ask for updates about their case. Some applications, such as SPIDR Tech, offer access to real-time automated messages about the investigation and/or prosecution. These solutions can also send text surveys after an interaction with police, district attorneys, and others to gather feedback on their experience as well as what is working and what isn’t. Asking for an evaluation immediately after an interaction or service request can show victims that public safety agencies are listening to their concerns.

This type of engagement is part of everyday life when using private sector services – online ordering, delivery, service wait times, and more. Applying this level of care by law enforcement and others in public safety can make a significant difference in the lives of crime victims.

Supporting Crime Victims’ Rights

Empowering individuals affected directly by a criminal act requires a coordinated effort from law enforcement agencies, victim advocates, and community organizations. These groups offer counseling, support groups, and other services during the healing and recovery process. Even observation days, such as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, help ensure victims have access to the information, services, and support they need to recover from crime. Police can work with these organizations and advocates to deliver any relevant details, resources, and more. These partnerships can make a significant difference in the lives of crime victims and survivors.

The advancement of technology has brought about a significant change in every aspect of our lives, including the way we assist victims. Innovative solutions, such as SPIDR Tech, have proven to be powerful tools in victim care and enhancing the quality of services provided from case updates to access to community resources. By engaging with survivors and listening to their voices, we can ensure that our responses and support are credible, meaningful, and centered on their individual needs.

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