VICTIM ASSISTANCE UNIT
The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office Victim Assistance Unit (VAU) employs four full time Crime Victim Advocates to assist crime victims throughout Niagara County. The VAU’s primary mission is to provide comprehensive, specialized services that are tailored to the specific needs of victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse (both physical and sexual), surviving family members of homicide victims, assault, robbery, DWI, arson, elder abuse, human trafficking and property crimes.
The VAU has been providing comprehensive direct services to crime victims in Niagara County since 1989. The advocates work as a liaison between the victim and law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office to make the criminal justice process easier to navigate. The VAU has continuously met these needs by offering:
• Outreach to explain VAU services and Office of Victim Services (OVS) compensation. OVS offers compensation for medical expenses, counseling expenses, funeral costs, loss of wages, and essential personal property to eligible crime victims.
• Home/hospital/off-site visits (to assist in filing OVS compensation claims, supportive counseling and follow up services)
• Transportation and accompaniment to police interviews, court proceedings and medical examinations at the Child Advocacy Center (CAC), criminal justice and support and advocacy
• Referrals to appropriate service providers
• Advocacy on the victim’s behalf with other agencies such as OVS, courts, law enforcement, District Attorney's Office, insurance companies, medical providers, and employers, etc.
• Crisis intervention provided at the crime scene or hospital (24 hour on-call availability)
• Telephone and in-person crisis counseling
The VAU directly serves all nine of the police agencies within Niagara County (Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, Lockport Police Department, North Tonawanda Police Department, Niagara Falls Police Department, Town of Niagara Police Department, Middleport Police Department, Lewiston Police Department, Youngstown Police Department and Barker Police Department), the District Attorney’s Office, and four local hospitals.
The VAU is funded by a grant through the New York State Office of Victim Services and matching support from Niagara County. The VAU advocates can be reached at 716-438-3306.
* The Victim Assistance Unit does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disablity, age, immigration status or having a criminal record.