The number of successful claims for compensation made by crime victims has dramatically fallen over the past six years. This decline has brought with it growing concern about the fairness of practices and treatment of individuals by the Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO) and in police departments.
Hoping to shine greater light on problem areas and increase the sensitivity of officials dealing with victims to improve outcomes, Assembly Democrats Shanique Speight, Eliana Pintor Marin and Louis Greenwald are sponsors of two measures signed into law by the Governor on Tuesday.
“No one prepares to have a loved one fall victim to violent crime, let alone to become a victim themselves,” said Speight (D-Essex). “Strengthening the justness and responsiveness of services, specifically in place to provide redress for crime victims and their families, is our responsibility.”
The two measures (A-5388 and A-5389), now law, work in stride to improve the specialized training of individuals working with crime victims. The first requires police departments to have at minimum one officer with specialized training on crime victims and the second that the Victims of Crime Compensation Review Board (VCCRB) be comprised of four members with training or expertise in crime victims’ rights.
“When a person or their family is affected by homicide, assault, domestic violence or another serious crime, it can be exceptionally devastating,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “Training personnel who work with victims and their families ensures that those especially vulnerable and in need of assistance are being treated respectfully and fairly.”
“Victims of serious crimes deserve to be treated with the utmost compassion and respect. To do that we must ensure the accessibility of services is matched with equal quality,” said Greenwald (D-Burlington, Camden). “Ensuring those who work directly with victims and on their cases have the training and background to be sensitive and empathetic toward their situation is crucial. Undoubtedly, advocates equipped with this specialized knowledge will allow the justice system to better serve the community. ”