BLACK HISTORY MONTH: ACPO VICTIM WITNESS COORDINATOR SHARES WHAT BLACK HISTORY MONTH MEANS TO HIM


 

MAYS LANDING-ACPO Victim Witness Coordinator Raymond Royster said he was raised to celebrate Black History all year long. As a Victim Advocate, he said he  appreciates that he can identity with some of the issues that Black and other minority victims experience.

“It has allowed numerous victims, particularly, Black male victims, to speak openly about some of their challenges. I have been able to refer these and other victims to adequate services as a result of being able to build a meaningful rapport.  It is a pleasure to work in an environment that I can authentically represent my culture and community every day and feel supported by those around me,” Raymond said.

Prior to coming to ACPO, Raymond worked as an investigator/adolescent worker for the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in Newark, NJ and Atlantic County, NJ.  He said he was able to learn about the needs of families, individuals and communities at large in a very intimate way, which allowed him to gain a better perspective and respect for some of their struggles and challenges.

“While working in Newark, I observed that some families lived in areas that were considered high crime areas.  Throughout much of my professional career, I’ve worked in social services and assisted thousands of people in need.  I’ve learned to not judge people by their environments and to look at each individual as a person that deserves respect,” he said.

Raymond said that he grew up in Union and Essex Counties and moved to Atlantic County after graduating from Stockton University.  The demographics and dynamics of North Jersey were very different from those in Atlantic County, Raymond said.

“I was used to working and living in an extremely diverse and high populated area that had a plethora of services and resources for victims. South Jersey offered less services for the victims and clients that I service, which forced me to collaborate more effectively and aggressively to ensure that my clients receive adequate and timely services. I learned to develop strong and lasting relationships with the service providers and community leaders in Atlantic County so that I would be aware of any openings and opportunities for those most in need,” Raymond said.

Raymond said he works daily to learn as much as possible  about the growing needs of the individual victims and the community at large in Atlantic County.

“I believe one the of the best methods is to develop and support forums that allow victims and community leaders to share their concerns openly and honestly as often as possible. The best and only  way to to truly advocate for people is to take time to listen to them and offer sincere assistance in their time of need,” he said.

 

~The mission of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office of Victim Witness Advocacy is to provide services and support to victims and witnesses of crime that will assist them through the criminal justice system and will aid and empower them in their recovery from a traumatic event.

When you are a victim of a crime or a witness to a traumatic event, it can seem overwhelming and you may be uncertain of who can help you through the crisis and the aftermath.  The advocates employed by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office are available to provide information, support and advocacy, link you to recovery services-all with the goal of helping you to recover and be supported through the justice system. Our services are free of charge and offered in English and Spanish. Access to an interpreter service, if needed, is available to assist you.

If you are a victim or witness of crime, trained victim witness advocates are available to answer your questions about the criminal justice system, provide you with case-specific information, support through the criminal justice system and provide referrals to victim service agencies that can assist you with your loss or injury.

The services provided are:

  • Information about the criminal justice system and juvenile justice system
  • Advocate for the rights and needs of crime victims
  • Case specific information and notification
  • Assistance with completing the Victim Impact Statement
  • Crisis intervention and support counseling
  • Provide a secure, separate waiting area for victims and witnesses of crime
  • Assistance with a restitution request
  • Court accompaniment for hearings, trial, and sentencing
  • Prosecution interview accompaniment
  • HIV testing of certain charged offenders
  • Social service agency referrals
  • Counseling referrals
  • Assistance with property return
  • Assist with completing the Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO) application and follow-up
  • Provide letters for school and employer attendance in court
  • Information and assistance with VINE (Victim Information Notification Everyday) and Parole
  • Arranging for interpreting services, when needed
  • Child care, if needed, when testifying
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