Tulsa Police have added a new unit in the department, which focuses solely on helping the victims of crimes. The program started in February and so far, they've already helped more than 600 victims.
Police officers get calls, they respond, handle the situation, put the bad guy in jail, and so they often don't have a lot of time to focus on the victims. That’s where Whitney Allen and her team come in with the Victim Services Unit. They are the first in line to be that support system for all victims.
"Our goal is to make it not feel like the police department,” Allen with the Tulsa Police Victim Services Unit said.
The interview room is designed as a safe and comfortable space for crime victims and families.
"When you've already been a victim of a crime and experiencing trauma, we want them to be in a place where they can relax,” Allen said.
TPD has advocates for sex crime, child and family violence victims. This new unit helps victims of all other crimes like homicide, robbery, burglary, elder abuse and many more.
"It is definitely an important piece of police work is completing the complete circumstance, not just solving the crime. Getting the victims out and getting them help,” Allen said.
Allen said their job is to connect victims with all sorts of services here in Tulsa. She said they've noticed an increase in child victims and children who are witnesses of crimes, so they teamed up with the non-profit Joy in the Cause to focus on children.
“They were able to give us a number of backpack items that we can give kids,” Allen said. “They have a number of items inside them, everything from stuffed animals to child’s masks, some blankets, some games, and things we can give a child during a time of crisis.”
Allen said this is the side of police work many people don't get to see.
"A lot of our cases are heartbreaking. They are really just hard to hear sometimes,” Allen said. “There is definitely that satisfaction that you are able to go in and help them.”
Right now, this unit is fully funded by a grant. Allen said their goal is to make this unit a city funded unit so they can continue to help victims here in the community.