SAN FRANCISCO—On Wednesday, December 15, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office announced the expansion of the District Attorney’s Office’s Victim Services Division (“VSD”). District Attorney Boudin has, for the first time, secured funding to expand VSD to include two property crime advocates. The two advocates will support victims of residential burglaries and businesses experiencing storefront vandalism. The first of the two advocates started this week.
“My administration is dedicated to supporting crime survivors, especially following traumatic crimes that leave them feeling vulnerable and afraid,” said District Attorney Chesa Boudin. “We know how violating it can feel to have the sanctity of one’s home breached, and that is why we have prioritized support for victims of home break-ins. We also know how much our small businesses have suffered as well during the pandemic, which is why we are also providing advocates to merchants facing storefront vandalism.”
The New Property Crime Advocate Positions
There are tens of thousands of victims of property crimes each year in San Francisco and until now, none of these victims could be served by VSD. The property crime advocates will help alleviate the significant trauma that can result from a home break-in by supporting victims and acknowledging that these crimes can be more than just property damage and loss and can impact victims’ feelings of safety and emotional health. The property crime advocates will providing victims of residential burglaries linkage to community-based resources, assist with the victim compensation application process, and provide navigation through the court process in charged cases. Additionally, the two property advocates will assist small business owners who have struggled during the pandemic and are now impacted by property crime such as vandalism. They will connect these merchants to community-based resources for victim compensation, and, if available, apply for victim compensation for District 5 businesses as part of the District Attorney’s previously announced pilot program with Supervisor Preston, and will work provide court navigation through the court process in charged cases.
“The SFCDCMA welcomes the expansion of the Victim Services Division to include small businesses who are experiencing storefront vandalism,” said Maryo Mogannam, President of the San Francisco Council of District Merchants Association. “‘It takes a village…’ as they say. We appreciate the District Attorney’s Office expanding their services and look forward to being part of the solution.”
District Attorney Boudin has hired 10 new victim advocates—including eight advocates fluent in English and another language—and securing the two property crime victim advocate positions. He added to VSD positions for two clinical social workers and two credible messengers. The social workers will provide intensive case management to victims who are identified as having more intensive needs and will ensure that these victims are assisted with counseling services, supportive or transitional housing, in‐depth explanations of the criminal legal system, and collaboration with other community providers. The credible messengers are members of the community personally impacted by the legal system who will help crime victims in the Bayview, Visitation Valley, the Mission and Excelsior access services; connect victims with resources; provide trauma-informed responses; and prevent victims of crime from committing crimes themselves.
“The District Attorney’s Office Victim Services Division will continue to push to provide better and more services for victims of crime and survivors in San Francisco,” said Interim Chief of Victim Services and Assistant District Attorney Kasie Lee. “We are pleased to be able to, at long last, expand Victim Services to include victims of property crimes like residential burglaries—which we know disproportionately impact people of color, immigrants, and people living in poverty. We hope that in the future we will receive the funding and support to continue our expansion of VSD and ensure that all crime victims in San Francisco can receive the support they need through our office.”
VSD advocates work with city and community-based partners in delivering support services to crime victims and survivors. They support survivors in a variety of ways, in both charged cases and uncharged cases—such as those still pending investigation and/or an arrest—by providing initial crisis counseling and needs assessments; linkages to city and community based resources; assistance with victim compensation and restitution; and navigation through the criminal legal process.
Anyone who has been a victim of crime in San Francisco, reach out to email@example.com.