- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2002

Metropolitan Police are taking a big step for victims beyond just catching criminals, Chief Charles H. Ramsey announced yesterday.

Officers in the future will tell victims how they can get temporary shelter if needed, obtain counseling, sit in on trials and receive compensation for losses, among other things.

"I am pleased to be able to partner with the National Center for Victims of Crime to meet victims' needs in the most effective and efficient way possible," Chief Ramsey said.

"Our recent survey of crime victims in the District of Columbia showed an overall satisfaction with initial police response and the treatment of victims of crime, but reported a need for more follow-up information including resources and referrals," Chief Ramsey said.

Most victims of crime in the city were not told that they had rights, that they could get counseling or that there were agencies available to help them. Less than 11 percent of the victims were told about the Crime Victim Compensation Program, which has been available since 1985.

Expenses that may be covered include crime-related medical and mental-health counseling, up to $3,000 of funeral costs, wages or services lost as result of crime, crime scene cleanup costs, replacement costs of clothing held as evidence and temporary housing for victims of domestic violence.

"What we're going to do is give roll-call training to officers next week," said Kevin Morison, the police department's director of corporate communications. That will coincide with National Crime Victims' Rights Week.

New "Victims Rights and Resources" cards will be distributed to officers to be given to victims. Each officer will write a contact telephone number and his or her name on the card.

While the program's emphasis is for crime victims in the District, the service will be advertised by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority in Metro stations and Metro buses inside and outside the city.

Victims outside the District also can call Victims of Crime Helpline at 800/FYI-CALL.

Congress established a fund in 1984 to help pay for the services for victims. The fund, which now amounts to $1.34 billion, comes from fines and penalties imposed on federal criminals. Next fiscal year, the fund will pay up to 60 percent of each state's help services for victims.

Fines and penalties imposed on criminals in the District will help pay for services for crime victims in the city.

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