FOREST PARK — The Forest Park Police Department has a variety of resources to protect and preserve the rights of crime victims, officials said.
The department is headed by Chief Dwayne Hobbs. Forest Park police training coordinator Sgt. Charles Yermack said Hobbs’ goal for his department is to ensure victims are guided through the legal system and to the programs that are available to them.
“The Crime Victims Bill of Rights is handed out to applicable victims so they know their rights and the services available to them,” said Yermack. “We also regularly provide victims with information on the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Program. This program assists eligible victims of violent crime with expenses that are incurred due to the victimization.”
Yermack said the department has 36 Crisis Intervention Team officers on staff who have received special training on dealing with the mentally ill, children and others going through difficult crisis and change.
“Our officers are compassionate and strive to help people at the time of their victimization and during the initial investigation,” he said. “We frequently make contact with outside agencies that offer victim and witness services and provide referrals to the county victim programs and to community and governmental agencies that provide services to victims.”
Detectives and police officers maintain a close working relationship with the victims advocates at Clayton County District Attorney’s Office and Clayton County State Court Solicitor’s Office.
“They do a great job of providing information and connecting victims with aid programs,” said Yermack. “We are fortunate to have the programs operated by the district attorney and solicitor.”
The victims advocate services they provide include an escort and moral support in the courtroom; referrals to social service agencies in the community that provide food, shelter, support groups and medical care; information about the criminal justice system; courtroom orientation; information regarding the status of cases; property return and restitution information; assistance in completing victim impact statements, filing victim compensation applications; notification of judicial proceedings and information on contacting the sheriff’s office and the parole board.
Yermack said there is also a wide range of community and governmental groups that will provide assistance to crime victims.
“While Clayton County victim/witness assistance programs are more likely to connect victims to these, our officers also provide referrals to those in need,” he said.
The target agencies in Clayton County are Securus House, a battered women’s shelter; Southern Crescent Sexual Assault Center; Associated Counseling and Evaluation Services; Clayton County Adult Protective Services; Clayton County Health Department; Clayton County Mental Health Department; Clayton Rape Crisis Center; Department of Family and Child Services; United Way Help Line and Latin American Association, which provides translation for Spanish speakers.