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MJPS’s Victim Services Unit supports victims of crimes against the person

The Victim Services Unit of the Moose Jaw Police Service plays a valuable role in the community by supporting the victims of violent crime and linking them with important resources
The Victim Services Unit focuses on the victims of crimes against the person that include assault, sexual assault, robbery, and domestic violence.

The Moose Jaw Police Service (MJPS) has a specialized branch called the Victim Services Unit established back in 1994. This unit focuses on the victims of crimes against the person that include assault, sexual assault, robbery, and domestic violence.

“We try our best to support, reassure, and find the proper support for these individuals… (And) to have great community connections so we can send them in the right directions to get help and any kind of counselling or support they might need,” explained Terri Roney, the Victim Services co-ordinator for the MJPS.

This assistance is considered on an individual level and depends on the nature of the crime. The unit works closely with qualified volunteers who assist with phone calls, checking in with victims, and providing court updates.

The unit maintains a constant line of communication with the victims of crime. “Our goal is to keep people safe,” Roney said. This culminates in the linking of victims with the appropriate resources available throughout the community.

“It’s important that we surround those people with the proper supports and resources so they feel safe and so they know their rights.”

Victim Services also works with those who have been through traumatic events. This service is provided both to residents and members of the MJPS.

Victim’s rights

Victims of crime have the right to information, participation, protection, to seek restitution, and to make complaints. These basic rights are outlined in the Victim’s Bill of Rights upheld by the unit.

“A lot of time when you see our victims, they’re scared, (and) they are broken. They fear the situation, (and) they fear the justice system – that (the crime) might happen again, that the accused might come back.”

To address this concern, the Victim Services Unit also deals with emergency intervention orders and peace bonds.

An emergency intervention order is a legal document and allows police to remove a violent offender from a domestic situation before they re-offend. If they return when ordered not to, the consequence is jail time, explained Const. Jeremy Anderson with the MJPS.

“We don’t do it a lot, because it’s a very high threshold to get there,” Const. Anderson explained.

Peace bonds are also known as restraining orders. Peace bonds are put in place when a suspect is released on conditions that include an order not to contact a specified individual.

“If we know an assault has taken place and there’s domestic violence, we’re going to arrest that person, then charge that person and send them to court right away,” Const. Anderson said, noting that this measure serves to prevent any further escalation.

Victims Services also assists in the creation of a victim’s impact statement.

“This (statement) is going to let the judge know how this has emotionally impacted them, how it’s physically impacted them, economically… it’s just another way for the victim to participate in the court process,” Roney explained.

Compensating victims

A victim’s compensation fund applies to specific Criminal Code offences. The goal, according to Roney, is to provide funding for counselling, ambulance bills, dental work, funerary expenses, and anything else of that nature.

In the event of property damage during a crime or in crimes against property, the victim’s impact statement may be the only way to seek restitution if the reigning judge determines this is warranted.

Compensation also addresses clothing or items held by police as evidence, lost earnings not covered by WCB (Worker’s Compensation Board) or SGI, and counselling, largely for children who may have witnessed a violent crime.

Compensation is dependent on eligibility and on the approval of each application.

Removing barriers

In a number of domestic violence situations, victims may be renting their home and now feel stuck in a challenging financial situation. Roney said the Victim Services Unit can help these individuals get out of their lease so they can promptly move into a safer place.

Roney also said the unit aims to remove barriers by connecting victims to resources available locally.

To contact the Victim Services Unit, the number is 306-694-7621, although in most cases the unit responds without the need to be contacted in advance.

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