Plano Victim Advocacy Program Moves to Police Headquarters - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Plano Victim Advocacy Program Moves to Police Headquarters

City hires new advocates, moves offices to police headquarters



    Victim Advocates Move Into Police Headquarters

    Plano's crime victim support program now operates out of police headquarters. (Published Monday, July 23, 2012)

    The city of Plano is dedicating extra resources to provide for victims of crime.

    For years, the city's victim advocacy program, a requirement under Texas law, was run in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Collin County but is now run in-house.

    The city moved the program to new, dedicated space at Plano police headquarters after funding issues.

    "We had to change from outsourcing," said Curtis Howard, the police department's senior legal adviser, who oversees the program.

    He said the new structure of housing advocates in office space near detectives would hopefully add efficiency to the investigative process instead of simply giving out a phone number to another entity.

    Jessica Serrano and Kristy Hoffpauir help with paperwork, serve as go-betweens for investigators and victims and serve as a resource for information on the progress of a victim's case. Both fluently speak Spanish and English.

    "I wanted to help people," Serrano said. "I want to make sure they don't fall through the system and that they knew their rights."

    Serrano said she feels it is especially important when dealing with cases involving domestic abuse or sexual assault or when working with clients who do not speak English as a primary language or who may be in the country without proper documentation.

    "Those are the people I believe fall through the cracks, sometimes, just because they don't know what's going on," she said. "They don't know the services out there and that they're not alone in the process."

    By moving the advocates' offices to police headquarters, better lines of communication could help more cases reach Collin County district attorneys, said Howard, a former prosecutor.