Since 1992, the Highland County Victim Witness Office has been available to help victims of crime deal with a wide range of issues, and director Heather Collins said a $500 donation Monday from Merchants National Bank will help ensure the office can continue to offer those services.
Started by Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky Coss when he was the county prosecutor, the office receives 80 percent of its funding through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Victims of Crime Act, according to Collins, who took over as director of the local Victim Witness Office in May.
The other 20 percent of the funding comes from the county budget and donations, Collins said.
One requirement to receive the Victim of Crime Act funds, Collins said, is that the Victim Witness Office receives at least $500 in donations. That amount was covered Monday by Merchants National Bank. The Victim Witness Office also recently received a $100 donation from the Hillsboro Eagles Women’s Auxiliary and a $40 donation from Community Market.
Collins said the Victim Witness Office’s primary responsibility is to help victims and witnesses of felonies.
“Anytime there is someone law enforcement could use to offer comfort to a victim or witness so they can focus on the investigation, that’s when we respond,” Collins said.
She said her office accompanies officers on crisis calls when they respond to cases of abuse, overdoses, suicides, domestic violence, traffic accidents and more. Office staff and volunteers also accompany victims and witnesses to court, help victims with applications to receive financial assistance, keeps them informed of upcoming court dates, collects restitution for the victims after a suspect has been found guilty, and works with the Highland County Prosecutor’s Office on plea agreements to make sure the victim is OK with the agreement.
The office is staffed by Collins, one other full-time advocate, a part-time advocate, and a part-time advocate that works with Highland County Court in Greenfield. There are also volunteers that fill in when the regular advocates are not available.
Collins said the Victim Witness Office is looking for a part-time volunteer that could help with day-to-day tasks maybe once or twice a week when the advocates are in court. For more information call the office at 937-393-5872.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.