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Pima County looking for crisis intervention volunteers

Trained emotional support advocates for crime victims
Posted: 8:58 PM, Jul 16, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-17 01:21:27-04
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TUCSON, Ariz. — After a crime happens, local law enforcement is on scene investigating. And for crime victims, there are trained emotional support advocates working just for them.

Twice a year, volunteers go through crisis intervention training through the Pima County Attorney's Office Victim Services Division and learn exactly what to do to help crime victims.

"Victims feel like they really have someone that's there for them," Vanessa Helms, the director of Victim Services said.

Volunteers learn how to help victims feel more involved and supported in the process. They are trained to answer questions, and listen to concerns or fears.

Crisis intervention started in 1975, after former Pima County Attorney Dennis Deconcini recognized there were no rights for crime victims in Arizona, Helms said.

One of the top call responses the division sees is domestic violence.

About a year ago, law enforcement has been using a new protocol for detecting high-risk victims. It's called APRAIS, or the Arizona intimate Partner Risk Assessment Instrument System.

Helms says the numbers are staggering.

"We definitely have been more active in domestic violence calls in the past year, than probably ever before," Helms said. "Because more victims are being identified of high-risk of being injured or killed."

Volunteers respond any time there is a victimization of a crime -- whether it's domestic violence, a sexual assault, car crash, etc.

The crisis intervention training is open to anybody, of all backgrounds and education. Volunteers are available 24/7 and each one works about 20 hours per month.

Mandatory introductory sessions are on August 13 and 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. at 1310 W. Miracle Mile. Six-week training sessions start on September 3 and will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m. at the same location.

To RSVP, call 520-724-5525 or email vsvolunteers@pcao.pima.gov.