Police Chief Carl Wolf, Crime Victims and Domestic Violence Unit (CVDVU) Coordinator Beth Bay and City Clerk Colleen Wolf, representing the Hazelwood City Council, made a journey to Orlanda, Fla, recently to accept this award at a special luncheon.
The IACP Victim Services Committee presents three awards each year, one for each agency category — small, medium and large — determined by the number of sworn officers within the department. These agencies are honored for having demonstrated exemplary efforts in providing innovative service to victims of crime. The “Excellence in Victim Services Award” gives them recognition for utilizing best practices such as effective partnerships, training methods and performance monitoring tools which place victims at the center of their problem-solving activities. The HPD was chosen to represent the small agency category.
The CVDVU unit is responsible for the development and coordination of the department’s crime victims’ assistance program and other related activities. HPD’s CVDVU Coordinator is Ms. Beth Ray. She, along with uniformed officers, detectives and other department personnel, provide extensive and comprehensive services such as crisis intervention and follow-up consultation with victims with a 20-hour period. In addition, packets of information are provided to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and the families of homicide victims.
“Our police department is well known in St. Louis County and throughout the state for its commitment to victims of crime,” said Beth Ray, CVDVU Coordinator, Hazelwood Police Department. “I can attribute this to the cooperation I get from the front-line police officers who respond to the 911 emergencies and the genuine concern they have for the victim’s welfare, as well as to the effective collaboration that exists between myself and other department personnel and City staff.”
During fiscal year 2009, the number of cases that were referred, contacted or tracked by HPD’s CVDVU unit reached 3,156. The unit also provided assistance to a total of 498 victims. By a large margin, domestic violence victims continue to be the largest group utilizing its services. Approximately 400 to 500 domestic violence information packets are distributed by the CVDVU unit on a yearly basis. To accommodate the diversity of residents living in Hazelwood, the HPD offers these packets in the following languages: Spanish; Bosnian; Chinese; Vietnamese; Russian; and English.
In 2009, Ray provided legal advocacy at 104 hearings or related meetings in Family Court, Adult Abuse Court, Juvenile Family Court, and Criminal Court. She also assisted 30 victims in completing petitions for orders of protection and transported about half of these petitioners to the courthouse to have them filed.
“Beth does a wonderful job helping victims cope with the initial trauma after the crime occurs and being a trustworthy advocate by walking them through the process if further legal action is necessary,” said Hazelwood Police Chief Carl Wolf. “Our department has gained a reputation in the courts and in the prosecuting attorney’s office as one of the only law enforcement agencies in the County that offers this broad range of vital legal advocacy services to victims engaged in civil actions and as victim/witnesses in the criminal prosecution of violent offenders.”
HPD’s CVDVU has been successful in forming partnerships with the Missouri Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, Verizon Wireless Hopeline Program, and Project Backpack for children. The unit has expanded its services every year to better serve victims, and coordinates with other agencies and organizations in the broader community to help improve the ultimate outcome for victims.
(Photo courtesy of Convention Photo by Joe Orlando.) Standing in the photo from left to right: Chief Larry Thoren, IACP’s Victim Services Committee Chair; Hazelwood City Clerk Colleen Wolf; Hazelwood Police Chief Carl Wolf; Hazelwood CVDVU Coordinator Beth Ray; and Chief Patrick Foley, IACP Vice President At Large.