Crime Victim Assistance Program: Making sure no one falls through the cracks
Yolanda McCray has been a Crime Victim/Domestic Violence Advocate in the 28th Precinct in Central Harlem since 2017. As a victim advocate, she reaches out to people who have filed police reports to offer her support, help them navigate the criminal justice process, and advocate for whatever they need – from social services to new housing, to court orders of protection.
Ms. McCray has strong connections to her community and at the precinct where she works. She’s gained a reputation for constantly building and strengthening relationships with community organizations that can help her clients.
That’s why, when Ms. McCray and her team had to work remotely to stop the spread of COVID-19, police officers in the precinct often called her to make referrals for clients that needed support. “It wasn’t just one or two referrals, it was all of them,” said Liliana Peralta, Manager at the Crime Victim Assistance Program/Safe Horizon.
Ms. McCray’s clients know they can always reach her.
“When you walk down the street with Yolanda, people know her. They say, ‘Hey Ms. McCray.’ She really cares about the community,” said Peralta. “One of her favorite phrases is, ‘I don’t want this person to fall through the cracks.’ That’s something she says all the time. I’m so thankful for people like Yolanda.”
From Ms. McCray:
“Advocacy supports a voice to those who feel invisible. My motivation supports empowerment to those who are classified as underserved. My clients are my heroes, they show me that with patience, empathy and a helping hand, what is possible to achieve.”
AT A GLANCE: Crime Victim Assistance Program
• Victim advocates in 77 precincts, 9 Police Service Areas
• Advocates offer:
o Crisis and supportive counseling
o Safety planning
o Advocacy to schools, employers, creditors, and
landlords for accommodations
o Assistance applying for victim compensation o Referrals to individual or group therapy o Referrals to legal and social services
• Over 165,000 people have received support or services
• 93% of victims report feeling safer physically and/or emotionally after receiving Crime Victim Assistance
• 75% of victims served by the Crime Victim Assistance Program are people of color