Marilyn is the Senior Manager, Administration and Support Services for a small Police Service in Collingwood, Ontario and is the first 'Civilian' in an Inspector's rank in the Simcoe County area. She has generously provided us with some insight into her efforts, which we know you'll agree have earned her a place on this page as a major Achiever!
"It has been a challenge, to say the least, in such a male dominated paramilitary setting. Because it is a small service, the job has many hats; which provides challenge, variety and alot of stress (and I love it).
The departments that report to me are Communications, Court Services, all Clerical Support staff, Janitorial Services, and 24 volunteers (Victim Assistance, Senior Volunteers and the Citizen's Advisory Committees).
About the VAP program:
During the first six months of employment, in reading all the police occurences that happen in this town, it was evident that we could the extend the current service level to include a Victim Assistance Program. At that time the service involved Officers who had no time for follow up on victims of these occurences nor (from the very, very few) the inclination in some cases to be bothered. Most of these people felt victimized a second time by being 'left out' and neglected during the investigation and judicial proceedings.
I drafted a plan identifying a mandate, established working goals, developed efficiency measurements and presented the package to our Chief of Police and he bought it!
This program involves volunteers conducting call-backs to victims of crime. They provide emotional support and encouragement to assist them through the trauma the victim has encountered. The types of calls have included cases of sudden deaths and suicide, physical and sexual abuse of children and adults, break enter and thefts from private homes, victims of motor vehicle accidents; just to name a few. They have assisted the elderly in filling out insurance forms, talked to the lonely who call the service because family have forgotten them, babysat children while parents are being interviewed (or arrested). Through conversation and a "listening ear", they determine what the Service could further do to assist and/or make referrals to any of the many agencies in the vicinity (AAA, substance abuse centers, mental health, compensation board of Ontario, etc.) But mostly they listen!
It took 3 months to advertise, interview and process our final group of 14 volunteers, run weekend workshops and training sessions to prepare them. I invited local newspapers, TV coverage and local service clubs and the positive reaction was much more than I could ever expect. The enthusiasm from the community was outstanding!
This program was and still is very labour intensive but one of the most gratifying projects that I have ever had the privilege to work on."
Marilyn explained that she's very new to web design and is presently taking courses to improve her skills in this area. We can all relate to her difficulty with finding enough time!! But she didn't let that hold her back when she decided to create a website to inform the community and other police about their police agency; the services they provide; their volunteers; Crime Stoppers and crime prevention/education. The site invites comments and suggestions and answers questions about their Service.
Another brilliant idea they've developed on their site is to include "Community Service Projects" with kids and try to include pictures about the events. An example Marilyn offered was their "Chief for a Day" where a picture of the grade six student who won their safety contest in November was displayed on the site until recently.
Congratulations, Marilyn, on a tremendous achievement and the influence your efforts are having on many lives! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and providing us with some wonderful ideas that can hopefully develop in our own communities!
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