Calera’s victim advocate making a difference in the community
CALERA, Ala. (WBRC) - The Calera Police Department is the only department in Shelby County who has a victim advocate that helps with a variety of cases like domestic violence and assault.
Just like at a district attorney’s office, a victim’s advocate is there to assists with the victim’s needs. However, for misdemeanor cases, there isn’t anyone to help.
Police officers don’t always have the time to meet with victims and walk them through their next steps or follow up.
Which is why Mitzie Wheat said her position is so beneficial.
“I explain to them where they need to go, what time its best to be there and what the process involves,” Wheat said.
Wheat said some of the best advocates she met all have a personal reason that drove them into this line of work.
“I had a sister who was murdered 30 years ago, and I know what its like not to have answers to questions and not know what to do next,” Wheat said.
Wheat first started out as a volunteer for a victim advocacy organization and then made her way over to Calera.
“I start out every day by reading police reports that were done the last time I was here,” Wheat said. “I follow up on all types of crimes: domestic violence, assault, harassment, also burglary, theft all of those cases I also follow up on.”
Wheat recalls many times where it was not unusual for the police department to go back to the same domestic violence home five or six times.
“We just don’t have to do that anymore,” Wheat said. “I think the victims are more informed and they are getting more assistance to help them get out of those situations.”
Wheat said whenever she works with other organizations to help train law enforcement officers, she always suggests hiring a victim’s advocate to assist with those issues.
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