Victims Services Team now activated in Mecosta/Osceola County

Volunteers complete initial training

BIG RAPIDS — Volunteers from around the state came together this weekend to participate in the Victims’ Advocacy Unit training held at the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety.

Thirteen local volunteer candidates, who participated in the 20 hour training, will work with Mecosta and Osceola law enforcement agencies to assist individuals in times of crisis.

The initial training covered subjects such as the role of the advocate, how to calm agitated victims, grief counseling, active listening and observation, PTSD training and law enforcement protocols, among others.

“Victims Services Teams are now in place to assist families coping with the loss of a loved one, aid victims involved in a crime, as well as offer solutions to those in time of need,” a post on the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page said.

These advocates will assist first responders on the scene, working with victims to allow law enforcement to focus on other more immediate tasks, the post said.

Once deployed, the volunteers will be expected to help the victims and their families understand the information they have received, help them determine what they need to do next, act as a liaison between the family and law enforcement and remain with the family until their own support system is in place.

Two advocates will be “on-call” at any given time to provide immediate response at the scene and remain on site so that individuals are never left alone if law enforcement has to leave.

The VSU advocates will stay on the scene after the first responder leaves, as well as do follow up visits, depending on the needs of the victim.

For more information about the VSU advocate program call 231-592-0150 in Mecosta County or 231-832-2288 in Osceola County.