Providing comfort and direction, Victim Services Teams are in place to help families cope with the loss of a loved one, assist a victim of a crime, or provide solutions to those in time of need. Victim Services Teams are trained by the Michigan Sheriffs' Association and directed by the local sheriff's office in order to provide short-term crisis intervention to victims and their families.
Victim Services advocates are caring, compassionate volunteers who are recruited from the community. Representing a broad cross-section of the population, they often have experienced their own personal tragedy and want to help others. The Michigan Sheriffs' Association conducts a 20-hour training session which covers subjects such as the five stages of grief, effective communication techniques, law enforcement protocols, and the rights of victims in the criminal justice system.
As a result of the improved communication between victims and law enforcement, conviction rates are higher in areas where there is a victim services unit.
The Michigan Sheriffs' Association brought the Victim Services Unit program to the state in 1988. Regarded as model for the rest of the nation, it received the Presidential Citation for Private Sector Initiatives in 1989.