Horry Co. building team of advocates to support victims of crime - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Horry Co. building team of advocates to support victims of crime

(Source: WMBF News) (Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Horry County Police Department is building its team of victim advocates to better serve the growing call volume and number of victims in the county. The advocates provide assistance any victim of any crime might need.

There are four Law Enforcement Victim Advocates (or LEVAs) staffed by the department now. Private First Class Kristen Albrecht, the regional director for the LEVA Pee Dee Region, has been working as an advocate for around a year. The other three advocates are newer, with the two newest starting two months ago. All the advocate positions were created because grant money was awarded.

When 911 is called and police arrive, an advocate might be called straight to the scene to respond or will be given a report afterwards with contact information for the victims later. Albrecht said they reach out to every single victim to offer assistance, sometimes that’s dozens upon dozens of victims each day.

"Whether it's a domestic violence situation or even a larceny, it's very important to everybody,” said Albrecht. “So we try to reach out to each victim and walk them through the process."

The team’s mission is to make sure all victims are comforted and protected. Albrecht said their assistance covers everything from helping with paperwork to other things you might not think of. If someone was just murdered, the advocates can help with information on the burial process and cost. If you’re a victim of a crime, you might be too panicked to realize you might need counseling. The advocates can help provide you counseling resources. Or if you are a victim of criminal domestic violence, the advocates can give you the confidence boost you might need to file a restraining order and find new housing. The advocates can also provide transportation to and from a court hearing or counseling, etc. Albrecht said everything can be extremely overwhelming when you’re panicked and in pain, so the advocates are on call 24 hours a day.

The advocates are also focusing on providing proper assistance to victims of criminal domestic violence. They want to help provide you the support you need to break free.

Albrecht explained the advocates are here to help you “know when to call. When something is not okay. When to break free. When to break the silence. We're here for you and we're willing to walk you through that process. So to have strength and be strong and to call us because we're here."

The team provides immediate and long-term assistance, and also emphasizes education with adults and kids. The team wants to host and sponsor more educational and training events to help everyone prevent assault, domestic violence, or any crime. If you would like to volunteer to help the team of advocates in office work and organizing these events, send an email to Albrecht at Albrechk@horrycounty.org

The team of advocates are going through specialized training right now. And there will be a local seminar they will attend later this year. The department hopes to add a fifth LEVA, but that depends on getting the appropriate funding.

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