'This is what we've been fighting for': Advocates applaud TPD victim’s advocate program

This week, the Tampa Police Department will appear before city council to give a report on the financial support needed for a program to help victims of crime and gun violence.

Earlier this year, TPD announced plans to create a Victim Advocate Program. The program would assist victims of crime with access to the Crime Victim Compensation Fund for relocation expenses in domestic violence cases, funeral expenses, counseling and a retreat.

Patricia Brown and Johnny Johnson created Rise Up for Peace after losing their sons to gun violence. They said what they went through is why they work tirelessly to help other families. 

It’s also why they’ve pushed to implement programs like these in the city for victims of crime.

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"This is what we've been fighting for. This is what we've been trying to do," Brown said.

Patricia’s son Devante Brown was gunned down in March 2020. Johnny’s son Jayquon Johnson was killed in January 2017. He was just 17 years old. 

"It’s families behind each death, each person life is lost is a family trying to mourn and deal with that unexpected news," Johnson said.

They said they are grateful to see more of a spotlight placed on victims of crime as well as their families.

"It wasn't anything for us when it happened. So just to see that if a family had to experience this, that it would be there," Johnson said.

Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera pushed for more conversations around supporting victims of crime after noting an increase in violent crime last year. 

He gave a statement to FOX 13 ahead of Thursday’s council meeting:

"I am proud to work with the City of Tampa to spearhead more investments in helping out victims of crime. Like a father who lost a son to gun violence once told me: When you lose a loved one to crime and violence, the mortgage is still due; the rent is still due; the car payment is still due. We should have a fund to provide victims of crime with ‘gap’ assistance while they go through the worst kind of trauma life can give us."

Council will also discuss establishing a memorial dedicated to victims of gun violence.