New ASU Police volunteer program focusing on victim assistance

08-25-09 Volunteer
Elektra Fike-Data at University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand holds a sign written for the ASU PD volunteers.(Photo courtesy of Elektra Fike-Data)
Published On:
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
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The ASU Police department is launching a new program emphasizing victims’ assistance as its volunteer organization enters its first full semester.

The Victims Assistance Program will be headed by, social and behavioral science senior Courtney Murch. The program will work with students who have been involved in a sexual assault, a form of alcohol poisoning or other related events.

The Volunteer in Police Service program, which began last April, will oversee the new Victims Assistance Program.

Murch said the program’s goal is to help victims at the scene of the crime, be with them as they’re transported to the hospital and show them some of the outlets they have for assistance.

“We’re looking for volunteers with a background in psychology and criminal justice,” Murch said, adding that she hopes to get students to volunteer and work with the victims as peers.

ASU Assistant Chief of Police Jay Spradling, who heads the ASU program, said he is looking forward to the return of students and the upcoming year.

“It can help out students but also the members of the community,” Spradling said, adding that almost anyone can fit the volunteer profile.

Right now there are four volunteers in the program, each filling a role that spiked his or her interest.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, drug free and pass a background check and polygraph test to be admitted.

Doris Cornett, the program’s volunteer coordinator, said volunteers are expected to maintain the same standards as police officers.

“The reason people have to be fingerprinted and polygraphed is because we have access to personal information, just as an employee would,” she said.

There are currently 13 positions within the program, but positions are flexible and can be created to suit the volunteer.

One position is crime analysis, which psychology senior Elektra Fike-Data is currently filling.

“I’m doing this to open doors and see what’s out there,” she said.

Fike-Data, who said she saw how similar programs work while on a recent vacation in New Zealand, emphasized the need to “capitalize on volunteering,” or take advantage of interested volunteers.

She’s currently working between 10 and 12 hours a week, but said she hopes the hours will increase as the school year begins.

Fike-Data said the ASU Police department is adamant about praising their volunteers.

“We’re trusted employees, but we’re volunteers as well,” she said.

Fike-Data said she has received plenty of hands-on experience through volunteering and also had opportunities to network.

“Networking is amazing because [police officers] know everyone,” she said.

Other positions in the program include crime prevention, court liaison, records clerk, station administrative assistant, bike assistant, fleet supply, grant writer and lobby desk assistant.

The hours and time commitment in the program are flexible.

“It’s really important to recognize the opportunities that experience can give you,” Fike-Data said.

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