ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — The new $444.7 million budget passed by the Round Rock City Council Thursday night will provide more help to crime victims.
The budget included funding for two more victim advocates that will work in the Victim Services office at the Round Rock Police Department. An agency spokesman said a grant will help cover 80 percent of that cost.
Hayley Massingill began working as a victim advocate in January. She said these new positions will help expand what the current team of two in the office can provide to people during their worst moments.
“24/7, we’re on, which we love to do,” Massingill said, “but adding two more people is going to allow us to do so many more things, such as walk further with the victims through their process, be there with them for their court appearances, questions, follow-ups, and more detail that we would like to do as well as help us interact with the community more.”
These new hires come at the same time that a new fund will benefit the Victim Services Office. For the first time, the victim advocates will have their own budget thanks to Connie Whites, the wife of a fallen Round Rock police officer.
Whites started the Victim Services and Community Services Fund in memory of her late husband, Officer Charles Whites. She took $150,000 in donations that people sent her to create the fund through the Greater Round Rock Community Foundation.
“Somebody who needs to get to a loved one who’s in a crisis; getting somebody from a crisis situation to a shelter; providing shelter; providing food if they’re needing it,” Whites said. “There’s all sorts of scenarios that can take place that this money can be used for.”
Massingill said this money will allow the Victim Services office to do so much more for people.
“With funds that we used to not have, now that we have them, we’re able to look into different avenues of hey, if your kid needs diapers, we can get you those diapers, or if you haven’t eaten all day, we can get you food,” she explained. “Even though it seems small, it helps a lot. We’re very, very grateful.”
Some officers, like Sgt. Tim Chancellor with the domestic case unit, rely on Victim Services on every case they investigate, so the additional resources are welcomed.
“When the advocates and the volunteers are able to come alongside that person and continue to communicate with them — answer phone calls, text messages, questions of any kind — then that lets the victim know that they’re still important to us,” Sgt. Chancellor said.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to highlight our advocates and the work that they do,” he added, “but we have many units within the department just like that within the department that, if they weren’t here, none of us would be able to do our jobs.”
The City of Round Rock is sifting through applications right now for the new victim advocates since the job openings closed on Sept. 3.
The new city budget also included money for police to hire two more officers.