Tampa Police Department to create program to support crime victims

The Tampa Police Department is in the development stage of creating a Victim Advocate Program. 

The program would assist victims of crime with the Crime Victim Compensation Fund, relocation expenses in domestic violence cases, funeral expenses, counseling for victims and significant others and a retreat.

"Victims of crime are our unsung hero. That’s who we’re here to serve and protect. It’s our goal to prevent the crime from occurring, but if it does to be there for the victims," TPD Assistant Chief Bercaw said.

The plans for the program were part of a broader discussion during Thursday’s Tampa City Council meeting about crime, its impact and prevention. Councilman Luis Viera asked for the session after an increase in violent crime last year. He said there needs to be more conversation around supporting victims of crime.

"Every time there’s a rape, every time there’s a murder, every time there’s a robbery, you’ve got a victim who is left behind who’s scared, whose security has been violated, and we need to talk about that all the time," Viera said.

The current Victim Assistance Program goes through the State Attorney’s Office. TPD said the programs would work together bridging the gap and providing victims with additional resources.

"Because our victim assistance program really starts from the moment we get the case, which may be a couple of days or even more than that after the incident occurs. This is important to having that support from the moment of victimization," Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren said.

City Council members also heard from groups that work with victims of crime about ways to support their mission. Council will discuss implementation and funding for the Victim Advocate Program in August.

Council also passed a motion to discuss creating a memorial for victims of crime and gun violence.