The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Group helps victims cope with crime

By Edna Horton/managing editor

A tree planted on NE Campus was dedicated to violent crime victims and their families in observance of Crime Victim’s Awareness Week.

The tree, a crape myrtle next to the chessboard, was planted five years ago in honor of the Tarrant County Coalition of Crime Victim Services. The coalition, a group of social services, police officers and shelters, provides victims of violent crimes and their families the help they need.

Lori Clarida, Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office victim assistance coordinator, opened the dedication by telling the audience the history of the program. Founded in 1987, the program’s goal is to improve services to victims and their families. She said instead of planting a new tree every year, the group decided to add a plaque to the trees already planted.

“We want to thank and recognize victims and recognize what they have been through,” she said.

April Mitchell, a social worker with the program, told the story of her husband, Brett Mitchell, and his death by a drunk driver 11 years ago. At the beginning of her story, Mitchell held up a picture of her husband and tearfully told the audience how many years had passed since his death and how he had died.

“I am a survivor, barely, but I’m here,” she said.

Mitchell talked about the shock of her husband’s death, the difficulty for friends and family to move on and the impact his death had on the community. Without support from friends and family, she said she may never have made it through. There came a point, she said, when she decided to be better instead of bitter. She could forgive, but forgetting was not easy.

She advised people when approaching victims to sometimes just not say anything.

“I think a lot of well-intentioned, loving people will say some things sometimes as a way to make themselves feel better,” she said. “But you should just listen to the victim. You don’t have to say anything. What they will remember are the people who helped them.”

Rose Brant, TCC police officer on SE Campus, heads the district victim’s assistance program. Brant said she is the only officer trained for the program now, but others will be trained in the future.

Brant said any crime victim can come to the police department for help, whether the crime occurred on campus or not. Through the Texas Crime Victim Compensation Fund, violent crime victims can receive help free of charge, she said.

“Anyone can come for help,” she said. “The program’s role is to make sure you get whatever help you need at that time.”

Help can come in various forms, such as medical attention or protection in an area shelter, Brant said. She said TCC and its sister assistance programs in the area can provide help to anyone.

She said victims can fill out a form with their name or anonymously and write a victim impact statement, which is the victim’s story. The statement follows through the entire case, so the victim never has to tell the story again.

When a victim of a crime comes into the police department, Brant said she stays with the person until other help arrives. She will go to any campus to offer help and to sit with someone who has been hurt, she said. If she can’t, then another officer can provide assistance. She said the victim should know someone is there who understands.

“When you see someone who was the victim of a brutal rape, walking to class with their books and they are happy, and they see you and say, ‘I know you but can’t remember from where,’ you know that you gave them the help they needed,” she said.

Brant wrote a pamphlet that lists who is eligible for services and what services are offered. The pamphlets are available at the police department along with other resources for getting help.

For more information, contact the police department at 817-515-8911 and ask for the victim assistance coordinator.

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