“The bottom line is the protecting of the victim,” Training Coordinator for the Concho Valley Council of Governments David Faison said.
Faison has been in law enforcement for almost 30 years and has been an instructor for five years. He said during this time on the job he’s seen a shift to more victim-centered trainings. These focus on more than just helping the victim of abuse at the scene. They address what a victim will need after a single incident such as long-term assistance.
On Wednesday, September 25, over 80 people from across Region 15 in West Central Texas got together to discuss the issue of abuse at the Access to Justice Seminar.
“We have a gap, we don’t have enough domestic violence or sexual assault trainings,” Nicole Nixon, Homeland Security and Justice Planner for the Concho Valley Council of Governments said. She helps agencies with grant applications and makes sure they meet eligibility requirements.
Nixon says seminars like Access to Justice are vital when it comes to meeting victim’s needs and having various agencies on the same page is crucial.
“Law enforcement is going to view it from a different lens from prosecutors and victim services are going to want things prosecutors can and can’t do so it’s just learning those things,” Nixon said.
Tonya Spaeth Ahlschwede, District Attorney for the 452nd District, which includes Mason, Menard, McCulloch, Kimble and Edwards Counties, presented at the seminar.
“As a prosecutor and working with law enforcement, we see a snapshot of what’s going on in someone’s life. But they need the resources to move forward with the trauma and everything that’s happened to them, so we want to be able to understand what resources are out there,” Ahlschwede said. “Victims of crime are everywhere and it doesn’t matter what county you’re from or how big or how small it is, you need the knowledge and resources to be able to help those folks.”
According to Faison, Law Enforcement Officers from around the Concho Valley, nurses, prosecutors, teachers, probation officers, and victim advocates were all represented at the training.
The next step after this seminar, which also was created to gauge participation, is to apply for a grant that will fund more seminars and training opportunities to address the issues of abuse and sexual assault in the West Texas area.
“Every year we have to get with the District Attorney’s office and ask how many victims have they heard from and it ranges from 300-500 a year. That’s annually so that’s at least one a day,” Nixon said.
Nixon added the seminar will continue through Thursday, September 26. There are also several ways for the public to volunteer to help victims now. To find out more, you can contact the Concho Valley Council of Governments.