Victim Support Team (VST)

​ Seattle police debuts friendlier space for assault victims

SEATTLE - Imagine the trauma of being a crime victim. Then imagine being asked to tell a detective the most intimate details of the attack. And all this conversation takes place in a stark interrogation room where moments earlier a homicide suspect sat.  But now victims of sexual assault will get to talk about the details of the crime in a different sort of room. Read More

Seattle mayoral Proclamation - 20 Years of VST Volunteers

Victim Support Team volunteers (past and present) were honored by Mayor Murray on April 18, 2016. He read his mayoral proclamation that recognized the importance of the hundreds of community volunteers who have dedicated their service to the Victim Support Team program over the last 20 years. The Seattle Police Foundation has supported this critical program over a number of years.

The Victim Support Team (VST) provides on-site crisis intervention and support to domestic violence victims at secured crime scenes.  The program addresses the gap in services for domestic violence victims and their children between the time patrol officers respond to a call and the time advocates, detectives and prosecutors make contact with the victim for follow-up.

funding from the Seattle Police Foundation provides training for VST volunteers, builds and enhances relationships with citizens and other domestic service providers. It also supports emergency services that VST volunteers can provide to victims.

Your support of Seattle Police Foundation provides clear, measureable results for making Seattle safer:

  • The presence of community VST volunteers helps break isolation and makes victims of domestic violence feel more supported by the community
  • Victims of domestic violence often feel more comfortable making statements to police officers with support from VST, which supports the prosecution of domestic violence crimes
  • With the assistance of VST volunteers at domestic violence calls, patrol officers are able to focus on the investigation. Additionally, patrol officers have the ability to respond to other 911 calls while VST volunteers address the victim’s needs

In order to become a VST volunteer, one must complete the mandatory 50 hour training academy, focusing on information necessary to conduct the work. Training includes crisis intervention, police radio, geography, overview of the criminal justice system, trauma counseling, working with children, and personal safety. With ongoing trainings from various community agencies, SPD is continually increasing volunteers’ knowledge of available services, while also forming a lasting partnership with these providers.

With 2015 funds, VST accomplished the following:

  • VST volunteers received 1436 hours of training
  • VST provided 15 taxi vouchers to victims of domestic violence and their families
  • VST provided 4 families with emergency shelter through a hotel voucher program, providing 12 bed nights total 
  • VST provided 21 metro bus tickets, enabling victims to access critical resources 
  • VST provided 62 families with tangible, emergency resources such as gift cards, food, clothing, etc.  

Story highlighting Impact:

VST worked with a victim who had been living in homeless shelters with her abuser. In 2014, her back was broken by her abuser. She told the VST volunteer that she had recently shaved her head so he could no longer drag her by her hair. As her abuser had never allowed her to own a phone, she had to rely on others staying in their tent encampment to contact the police when the abuse got particularly bad. This last time, he assaulted her to the point of unconsciousness. VST met with her in the hospital while the suspect was still at large.

During the intervention, she revealed that she had a friend outside of Seattle who was willing to take her in, however she had no way to get there.  VST provided a bus ticket for her the next day. VST was also able to provide a HopeLine phone and a warm bed for her to sleep overnight with the use of a motel voucher.

The DV Detective assigned to the case assisted in getting photo identification for the victim, as her abuser had cut up her ID in the weeks prior. The next morning, the VST transported her to the bus station and ensured that she got onto her bus safely. Later, VST learned that she was able to access a DV shelter and advocacy in the community where she was relocated.

Foundation funds provided a bus ticket and motel voucher, expediently ensuring the victim didn't go back to her tent and into the abusive relationship. She has a phone to contact resources, friends, and stay in contact with the prosecutors, as she assists with the prosecution of her abuser.