By Emily Young
PATERSON, N.J. – Victims of assault often face numerous challenges down the road after their initial call for help, such as medical bills, navigating the court system or finding a new place to live.
Paterson will be the first city in the state to have a victim specialist within the police department following a $450,000 federal grant.
“This new position will allow the department to implement a myriad of improved services, including crisis intervention, providing short term child care, assistance finding temporary housing, security measures for those fearing for their own safety–very very important,” Congressman Bill Pascrell said.
Mayor Andre Sayegh explained the role of the victim specialist.
“This individual will serve as a liaison, because the specialist will not be a member of law enforcement,” he said. “This individual is not a lawyer.”
The victim specialist will be the bridge between the victim and law enforcement , and help with the deescalation of the crisis, whether it’s a simple assault, sexual assault, or gun violence cases.
“Court system’s, justice system’s very difficult to navigate, but when you have a specialist here on staff, it makes it that less cumbersome,” Mayor Sayegh said.
This is all part of a crime compensation initiative that aims to inform victims of their rights.
“Today’s federal investment gets right to the heart of community policing,” Congressman Pascrell said. “When crime victims trust their officers to support them, they’re more likely to make a report and get the help that they need.”