Victims Services Alliance program seeks more volunteers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE)- The District Attorney’s office says it needs you for a new program aimed at helping victims of crimes.

KRQE News 13 checked on the new program that launched this month and learned dozens of people have stepped forward to help out — but they still need more.

“We don’t do enough for victims. We don’t put enough resources time or energy into making sure that they have the support they need,” District Attorney Raul Torrez said.

Torrez also says his office only has 13 victim advocates working on up to 600 cases at any given time.  This makes it difficult to give victims the kind of support they need, Torrez said.

Since the Victim’s Services Alliance program launched two weeks ago, 50 volunteers have signed up. But Torrez says they need more to help the thousands of victims in the community cope with the grief, the trauma, and understand how the criminal justice system works.

According to Torrez, there’s only one other District Attorney Office doing this in the country, and it’s in Tucson, Arizona.

“It’s like Tucson’s program but it’s a little different. The Tucson program directly screens, trains and works with their own direct volunteers. We are going to have a piece of that where we direct volunteers to the DA office. But in addition, we are going to have established victims groups who are part of a coalition part of this alliance,” said Torrez.

Nicole Chavez’s son, Jaydon Chavez Silver, was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2015. She’s supporting the program.

“You’re already in a fog. So to not know what the year or next year is going to look like, it’s traumatizing,” said Nicole Chavez.

So is Joan Shirley. Her son was murdered in 1999. She’s now a certified victim’s advocate with the Resource Center for Victims of Violent Death and is ready to train volunteers.

“It isn’t just the nuts and bolts. It’s how are you going to make it through this court hearing. It’s how are you going to get through the week,” said Shirley.

Training for the first round of volunteers will start in July. They hope to have the program officially up and running by late summer to early fall.

They are not looking for a specific number of volunteers, and no prior experience is necessary.

Anyone willing to help out will be considered, even if it’s just helping with paperwork or being that extra support in the courtroom the victim needs.

They’re accepting applications right now.

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