Marc Hemmerick, acting inspector for the Hawkesbury OPP detachment, welcomed local media to the police station February 26 to introduce the new Victim Advocate Program (VAP) for the Hawkesbury OPP policing region.
“This program will enhance police services for the area,” said Inspector Hemmerick.
Last summer the Hawkesbury OPP, in partnership with the Hawkesbury Police Services Board, Centre Novas-CALACS francophone Prescott-Russell, Maison Interlude House, and Victim Services Prescott-Russell, sent a proposal to the Ministry of the Solicitor General for creation of the VAP. The ministry approved a $179,300 grant to cover the costs of a three-year start-up for the program.
“The minister herself called me at home,” said Inspector Hemmerick, “to inform me that we were one of the successful (grant) applicants. The ministry was very impressed.”
Sabrina Rouleau was hired for the VAP program. Her educational background includes a Bachelor’s Degree, majoring in criminology, with a minor in social work. Her practical experience includes three years working for Maison Interlude and, before that, for a defence lawyer.
She was hired in December as Victim Advocate and reported a full caseload so far.
“I have almost 30 cases now after being here more than a month,” Rouleau said.
The focus of the VAP is to aid victims of domestic violence or sexual assault within the Hawkesbury OPP policing area. Rouleau responds to police referrals for her services when they encounter a situation involving either family violence or sexual assault. She also takes referrals from any one of the other VAP partner agencies. That includes self-referrals made through the Victim Services agency.
Rouleau provides support for her clients up to an including the end of the case. She also helps her clients “navigate” through the criminal justice system while a case is before the court and also helps with finding referrals for victim support services from other agencies.
For now the VAP program operates 25 hours a week during its initial three-year mandate. For more information on the VAP, phone Victim Services Prescott-Russell, toll-free, at 1-877-632-7530.