RGC Sheriff's Office seeks grant for victim advocate program

RIO GRANDE COUNTY — Rio Grande County Sheriff Don McDonald and Rio Grande County Victim Advocate Courtney Arthur met with Rio Grande County Commissioners on April 20 during their weekly meeting to announce their intent to apply for a grant that would help fund the entire victim advocate program for the Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Department.

In previous years, Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Victim Advocate shared grant funding for the program through Alamosa County Sheriff’s Department alongside Monte Vista Police Department.

Due to unforeseen disagreements between the departments, funding from the Alamosa Sheriff’s Department was pulled from Rio Grande County and given only to the Monte Vista Police Department.

As a way of filling in the gap of funding to allow for more than one or two victim advocates to cover such a large area, Arthur decided it was time to seek funding for her department with the hope that she could continue to offer services to the county and to potentially grow the program. 

“This year I took the opportunity and applied for the Victims of Crime Act grant, which is what we usually had through Alamosa, but we applied for it ourselves this year. If we are awarded, over the next two years we are hoping to serve 383 victims. Anything from child abuse, domestic violence, burglary and death notifications which means providing services, accompaniments, information about the criminal justice process, applying for victim compensation and pretty much anything we can offer to make the victim’s process easier,” explained Arthur.

Arthur requested $163,000 but the actual amount will depend on the grant makers deciding what would be appropriate for the grant if it is approved.

“We are not sure what portion of that will be awarded and that would cover not only my position, but training, travel, emergency shelter, resources for victims and other things related to victim advocacy. The grant could potentially cover pretty much anything I needed to aid victims,” Arthur said.

The grant was in-depth as Arthur broke down what had to be included in the application, stating that it went as far as having to list the supplies they would want.

“Things like printing supplies, relocation assistance, general training, emergency essentials and tuition support and continuing education,” she said. 

The grant was submitted on Feb. 22 and will be reviewed by the board by mid-summer with the hopes that an answer will be sent by fall with the grant funding beginning at the start of 2023. If approved, Arthur hopes to expand the victim advocacy program by offering additional services that she cannot offer now. Those services could include relocation of victims, food and emergency supplies, overnight accommodations, and transportation as well as additional educational opportunities for her and her staff.

“I made sure to include the things that this program currently lacks like emergency shelter, emergency essentials, general training, and mileage. As of right now, if we needed to transport a victim or put them up in a hotel, we have no funding,” Arthur said. 

Commissioners were pleased with the work that was done by Arthur on the grant and asked to be kept up to date on the outcome of the grant.