Victim Services Unit
The Van Buren County Victim Services Unit (VSU) is a trained volunteer group under the direction of the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office, the Michigan Sheriff's Association and the Coordination of Tara Bugg and Heather Barr. Dedicated to helping victims, survivors and their loved ones work through a crisis, they are the helping hands of the police, fire and medical personnel.
How Victim Services Unit Helps Victims
The Victim Services Unit frees authorities to do their job without leaving victims alone or feeling ignored. The objective of the unit is to assist and their efforts are focused on avoiding further victimization. The unit is designed to comfort and help victims immediately after an incident by providing short-term crisis intervention. Having no personal reference for traumatic events, most victims feel lost and in need of guidance. VSU can offer answers to such common questions as what happens next, funeral preparations, why medical exam and/or autopsy is needed, why a crime scene takes so long to process and who will guide them through the court system (if needed). Referrals can also be made to appropriate agencies and services within the community.
On scene, the Victim Services Unit plays a vital role by lending support and assisting victims and witnesses through the initial shock of trauma. The Unit can separate victims from the scene of an investigation while maintaining a link to officers for the victim's questions and concerns. At a secondary site, they can stay after officers leave, working to pull a support system of close friends, family or church personnel into place.
When to Request VSU Services
- Breaking and entering (especially senior citizens)
- Criminal Sexual Conduct
- Death notifications
- Homicide, suicide or any death or serious injury
- House Fires
- Lost children
- Natural deaths
- Natural Disasters
- SIDS deaths
- Traffic Accidents or other traumatic events
- Whenever requested
How to Request the VSU
Victim Services Unit volunteers can be requested by any police department, fire department or hospital within the county, or by volunteers themselves. They will respond, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, to the scene, police agencies or other locations. To request the VSU, contact the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office Dispatch at 269-657-3101.