Services for crime victims and the organizations that help them in South Carolina are now under one roof.
State Attorney General Alan Wilson said the newly formed Crime Victim Services Division is now part of his agency.
“I think it’s going to set the stage for a new era. In how we work with, how we protect and how we serve those who find themselves unfortunately in the position of being a victim in South Carolina,” Wilson said Friday at a press conference announcing the new division.
The consolidation was among the recommendations made last year by a Domestic Violence Task Force appointed by then-Gov. Nikki Haley. That recommendation speculated it would be more efficient and more effective for crime victims if all providers were in one place and collaborating, rather than being in separate agencies and locations.
Wilson said it’s a one stop shop for victims needing the services. “We need to go ahead and treat victims and those who serve victims and the victims’ services providers as well the victims advocates around the state. We need to put them on par as a state agency,” he said.
The move involves 65 state employees from three agencies spread out across three different locations. The State Office of Victim Assistance, known as SOVA, was considered part of the Department of Administration and was housed in the Brown Building on Statehouse grounds. Meanwhile, the Crime Victim Ombudsman was in the Wade Hampton Building on the opposite end of the Capitol grounds. But the office which handled Victims of Crime Assistance Grants, Violence Against Women Act grants, and State Victim Assistance Program grants was part of the state Department of Public Safety and was located at DPS headquarters in Blythewood.
Now, those three agencies will be combined into divisions that are all part of the AG’s office and located in the Brown Building. A 2016 law also creates a fourth division — the Department of Crime Victim Services Training, Provider Certification, and Statistical Analysis. Its mission is to provide training, and certification for victim services providers. It will also analyze crime data to determine need or effectiveness.
Burke Fitzpatrick will serve as the first director of the SC Crime Victim Services Division. “We believe this change can greatly enhance the support and compassionate delivery of services to our citizens who’ve been victims of violent crime,” he said in a statement. “Putting all state agencies that help victims under the Attorney General’s office has the potential to transform how we help victims restore their lives.”