The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion authored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, that will strengthen services and protections provided to victims of crime in Los Angeles County.
Through the motion, the County and the District Attorney’s office will adopt a series of recommendations included in a June 25, 2021 report by the CEO’s office entitled “Protecting Victims’ Rights and Strengthening Victim Services.”
“Los Angeles County has seen a 72 percent rise in homicides and an 11 percent increase in aggravated assaults, including aggravated sexual assault,” said Barger. “Now, more than ever, we must devote resources to provide comprehensive and holistic healing by restoring and enhancing the County’s victim services programs.”
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has historically committed to helping victims of crime and protecting their rights through its Bureau of Victim Services, which employs victim services representatives in courthouses and police stations to provide essential services to crime victims and witnesses. Their roles include crisis intervention, emergency assistance, counseling referrals, court escort and orientation, restitution assistance, returning property, employer assistance, and case status notification.
The motion approved by the Board of Supervisors will enhance and improve victim services by filling vacant positions in the Bureau of Victim Services and evaluating recruitment and retention strategies. In addition, the motion asks that the Chief Executive Office work with the District Attorney’s Office and the Probation Department to exempt the open positions within the Bureau of Victim Services from the County’s existing hiring freeze and to study the requirements to serve as a Victim Services Representative to ensure appropriate qualifications for staff providing trauma-informed care.
Additionally, the motion will expand expenses for the Unclaimed Victim Restitution Fund and will transfer eligible unclaimed restitution funds from the Probation Department to the District Attorney. The motion will ensure newly implemented policies will result in the use of one-time Unclaimed Victim Restitution Funds to cover expenses for victims and victims’ next of kin for funeral and burial, relocation, food, costs for necessities, and security expenses. Additionally, the motion asks the CEO to submit a request during the Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget to expand funding for victims’ services programs including restitution collection assistance. The motion will also evaluate AB 109 as a funding stream for victims’ services, explore additional grant opportunities, and foster collaboration with other County departments to leverage existing resources.
Finally, the motion requests the District Attorney’s Bureau of Victim Services to resume and institutionalize recurring meetings with relevant departments to ensure collaboration and partnership to broaden and strengthen services to support victims.
A copy of the motion with more details can be found [here].