October 7, 2020 - On October 5, the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), a division of the Office of Justice Programs, presented the “Crime Victims’ Rights Award” to the Fort Wayne Police Department Victim Assistance Program. This National Crime Victims’ Service Awards category honors those whose efforts to advance or enforce crime victims’ rights have benefited victims of crime at the state, tribal or national level.

Mayor Tom Henry today hosted a news conference to highlight and recognize the accomplishments of Victim Assistance. Fort Wayne was one of just 13 communities and organizations nationally to receive an award.

The Victim Assistance program was established in 1981 and provides comprehensive crime victim services to the City of Fort Wayne and surrounding communities of Allen County through crisis intervention, case management, and advocacy. Advocates and volunteers passionately work to provide information to crime victims to reduce re-victimization as victims navigate through the criminal justice system and assist them in understanding their rights. The services are provided at no cost to their clients and are available around the clock through their on call paging system. In 2019, 7,206 primary crime victims received services through the Victim Assistance office.  

The agency collaborates with a number of community and state agencies to provide trainings, community events, and projects developed to address the emotional, physical, financial, social, spiritual, and cultural needs of crime victims bringing awareness on the impact of crime on victims and victim rights in hopes to reach all victims.

Victim Assistance hosts several events around the year such as Rise Up Against Domestic Violence during National Domestic Violence Awareness month--a Candlelight Vigil to remember those who lost their lives to violence, Santa’s Workshop to provide Christmas toys to the families they serve, the Diamond’s & Denim: Every Victim Matters Event, and the Book Bag Giveaway for school aged children. Victim Assistance also launched the Meals 4 Healing program with Fort Wayne UNITED and local churches to provide meals to families of homicide victims and a TV series titled “After the Yellow Tape” to focus on unsolved homicide cases.

A short tribute video about the staff and volunteers involved with Victim Assistance and why they received this national award is available at https://bit.ly/2SrCMV1.

“All victims of crime deserve trained, devoted advocates to guide them through a difficult, often complex and always heart-wrenching journey,” said OVC Director Jessica E. Hart. “The Fort Wayne Police Department’s Victim Assistance Program has given us a shining example of a law enforcement agency committed to building bonds of trust with those who carry the pain of crime and violence.”

 “It’s a huge honor to receive this national award with only thirteen agencies across the country being recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice for their efforts,” said Jessica Crozier, Victim Assistance Director. “It speaks volumes about our agency and the work we do in our community for crime victims.”

“I’m proud of the efforts of Victim Assistance. The staff is committed to providing the best services possible to individuals and families going through difficult situations,” said Mayor Henry. “I know Victim Assistance will continue to be proactive in its efforts to be a positive resource and leader that the public and partner organizations can depend on.”

The Department’s Office for Victims of Crime, a component of OJP, leads communities across the country in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. President Reagan proclaimed the first Victims’ Rights Week in 1981, calling for greater sensitivity to the rights and needs of victims. This year’s observance took place April 19-25 and featured the theme, “Seek Justice | Ensure Victims’ Rights | Inspire Hope.” The award recipients were honored privately and virtually with friends, family and Office of Justice Programs leadership.

The Office of Justice Programs, directed by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan, provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, assist victims and enhance the rule of law by strengthening the criminal and juvenile justice systems. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.

 The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of the agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.