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The Las Cruces Police Department’s (LCPD) Victims’ Assistance Unit (VAU), the first police-based program of its kind in New Mexico, celebrated its 30-year anniversary in September.
Established in 1993, VAU was considered a pilot program until 1997 when it became a model for other programs in New Mexico, LCPD said in a news release.
“We’re very proud of the work done by our Victims’ Assistance Unit,” said Interim Police Chief Jeremy Story. “Our victims’ advocates are second-to-none and, throughout the years, have been at the forefront of assisting victims, some of our most vulnerable population, in their time of need.”
VAU provides an array of comprehensive services and collaborates with other community agencies to assist victims of violent crimes, the news release said. VAU’s Crisis Intervention Response Team of victims’ advocates provides crisis intervention for victims of crime from the time the call for assistance occurs, LCPD said. The unit can then help guide victims through the steps of the criminal justice system.
VAU also helps pair victims in need with financial assistance through the New Mexico Crime Victims’ Reparation Commission.
VAU works mostly with victims of felony offenses that are non-prosecutorial and misdemeanor cases, LCPD said. Cases being prosecuted by the Third Judicial District Attorney's Office are handled by the DA’s office.
For more information about VAU and to learn about serving as a volunteer, call 575-528-4060.