Kent Police offers help to crime victims

Daniel Moore

The Kent State Police Department has adopted a new program to help students called crime victim advocacy.

Alice Ickes is the victim advocate and works with police officers to provide care and services for victims and witnesses on campus.

“It’s mostly driven by the fact that we know most students come here, away from their home and families, so when situations come up, they don’t know who to go to,” she said.

Ickes has been working for the Kent State PD for 28 years. Two years ago, she switched positions within the department from police officer to crime prevention specialist.

This program was put into effect at the beginning of this semester, but Ickes said it is based on the past 20 years of a new sense of awareness for victim rights. The idea for this program is to “advise victims of their rights and give access to other services.”

One right that is available to victims is victim compensation. The state of Ohio puts funds aside for crimes of violence, such as murder, assault, rape and domestic disputes.

Another service available is transportation to the courthouse for both victims and witnesses.

Before this program was put into place the responding police officer was expected to follow up on the victim, which could be a problem because of conflicting schedules when that officer was on duty and when the students were in class.

Ickes said she has access to the reports and does the follow-ups herself. The officers also tell her if a victim was particularly shook-up from the crime so she knows to follow up. If she happens not to be available to contact the victim then the officers can also do it. Ickes said this is a more efficient way to help.

Through crime advocacy program, Ickes contacts any kind of help the victim may need, such as medical, mental or property. Ickes said the extent of her help largely depends on the needs of the victim.

“I will work with victims of crime so they’re aware of assistance entitled to them,” she said.

Ickes said she knows of no other campus police department, Ohio or elsewhere, which has a victim advocate program.

The city police department in Wilmette, Ill. has a similar program headed by Olivia Chui for 18 years.

Chui, a social worker for the department, said that it is not uncommon for police stations to employ up to three social workers to help with victim advocacy. The workers offer extensive follow up, including counseling, domestic violence support and order protection for women.

“Our service is a valuable one, especially for women who are really fearful,” she said.

Kent State’s victim advocacy is not just for victims of major crimes. It is for anything, even a victim of theft.

“For us officers, its a great opportunity to be in a place that cares about our campus community,” said Ickes.

Laura Hale, a freshman hospitality management major, thought the program was valuable and a good use of university money.

“Some people are victims, and it’s not their fault,” she said. “I believe that the offenders should rot in jail.”

Aodong Liu, an applied mathematics graduate student, said he had not heard of the program, and he wasn’t sure how he’d use the program if he were ever a victim.

Ickes said that it would be helpful after the crime, even if students don’t think they will be victims.

“We can’t undo the incident but we can help them get the help they need,” Ickes said.

Contact Daniel Moore at [email protected].