Texas Prosecutor, January-February 2019

Key Personnel-Victim Services Board elections

The Key Personnel-Victim Services Board assists in preparing and developing operational procedures, standards, training, and educa- tional programs. Regional representatives serve as a point of contact for their region. At the Key Personnel-Victim Assistance Coordinator Seminar at the Inn of the Hills in Kerrville, elections for the North Central Area and West Area were held. Amber Dunn will be the North Central Area (Regions 3 & 7) representative; she works in the Denton County CDA’s Office. The West Area (Regions 1 & 2) representative will be Raquel Luker, who works in the Swisher County & District Attorney’s Office. Amber and Raquel were elected to serve on the KP-VS Board beginning January 1, 2019 for a term of two years. Two additional board members (one KP and one VAC) will be appointed by the chairs of the TDCAA board of directors and the KP-VS Board.) Welcome to them both!
    KP-VS Board Officers for 2019 were elected as follows:  Chairperson Laurie Gillispie of the Erath County DA’s Office; Vice-Chair Kristie Ponzio Pressler of the Kendall County Criminal DA’s Office; and Secretary Sherry Magness of the Smith County District Attorney’s Office.    

KP-VAC Seminar highlights
The Inn of the Hills in Kerrville was the venue for a very successful seminar for key personnel (prosecutor office staff) and victim assistance coordinators (VACs) from across Texas in November. More than 200 members gathered for training for support staff and VACs who work in prosecutor offices, as well as to network with others across the state. Many, many thanks to our very informative speakers! We appreciate your time and valuable assistance.
    Mark your calendar for next year’s Key Personnel & Victim Assistance Coordinator Seminar to be held November 6–8 at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center in San Marcos.

Suzanne McDaniel Award winner
Laney Dickey, Victim Assistance Coordinator (VAC) for the Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, was honored with TDCAA’s 2019 Suzanne McDaniel Award for her work on behalf of crime victims and prosecution and for her service to TDCAA.
    Laney has spent 25 years helping crime victims. She served for 20 years as the only VAC in the Lamb County & District Attorney’s Office in Littlefield. When then-County & District Attorney Mark Yarbrough retired, Laney continued in her role as VAC with new elected Scott Say. When Lubbock County CDA Matt Powell learned that Laney was looking to move closer to her grandchildren, he quickly hired her as a VAC for his office. Nominations for this award were received from all three DAs for whom Laney has worked.
    When TDCAA started the Professional Victim Coordinator (PVAC) program, Laney was one of the original handful of coordinators to gain PVAC status. She has also been a devoted member of TDCAA’s Victim Services Board and was Region 1’s first TDCAA Victim Services Board representative.
    The Suzanne McDaniel Award is given each year by the KP-VS Board to an employee of a county attorney, district attorney, or criminal district attorney’s office whose job duties involve working directly with victims and who has demonstrated impeccable service to TDCAA, victim services, and prosecution.
    Laney exemplifies the qualities that were so evident in Suzanne McDaniel herself: advocacy, empathy, and a constant recognition of the rights of crime victims. Congratulations, Laney!

Oscar Sherrell Award winner
The 2018 Oscar Sherrell Award is given by each section of TDCAA to recognize those enthusiastic folks who excel in TDCAA work. This award may recognize a specific activity that has benefited or improved TDCAA or a body of work that has improved the service that TDCAA provides to the profession. 
    This year’s recipient is Rosa Maria Cervantes of the Nueces County DA’s Office. Rosa Maria joined that office in January 1985 and has devoted her life to helping women and children victims of domestic violence. Rosa Maria was the original counselor at the local women’s shelter from 1977 to 1985. Congratulations, Rosa Maria!

PVAC application deadline
The Professional Victim Assistance Coordinator recognition is a voluntary program for Texas prosecutor offices that recognizes professionalism in prosecutor-based victim assistance and acknowledges a minimum standard of training in the field.
    The deadline for applications is January 31, and detailed requirements and the PVAC application may be found on our website at www.tdcaa.com/victim-services.
    Recent recipients of PVAC recognition are Serena Payne of the Andrews County Attorney’s Office, Jane Adams of the Lamar County and District Attorney’s Office, and Lauren Hay of the Williamson County Attorney’s Office. Congratulations Serena, Jane, and Lauren!

In-office VAC visits
TDCAA’s Victim Services Project is available to offer in-office support to your victim services program. We at TDCAA realize the majority of VAC’s in prosecutor offices across Texas are the only people in their office responsible for developing victim services programs and compiling information to send to crime victims as required by Chapter 56 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and VACs may not have anyone locally to turn to for advice and at times could use assistance or moral support. This project is especially helpful to new VACs.
    If you are a new VAC and would like to schedule an in-office one-on-one visit, please email me at [email protected]. I am available for inquiries, support, in-office consultations, or group presentations.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
Each April communities throughout the country observe National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) by hosting events promoting victims’ rights and honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf. NCVRW will be observed April 7–13, 2019. This year’s theme is “Honoring Our Past. Creating Hope for the Future.” Check out the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) website at https://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw  for additional information.    
    If your community hosts an event, we will publish photos and information from it in a future issue of The Texas Prosecutor journal. Please email me at [email protected] .com with information and photos of your event.