Victim Services Unit


Being the victim of a crime, especially violent crime, can impact people in many different ways. The Victim Services Unit was established to provide dedicated resources and point of contact to help with the different needs someone may have in managing the emotional, financial, and physical needs following a crime.

Available services include:

  • being present during law enforcement interviews as a supportive presence (VSU personnel cannot provide input or otherwise directly participate in the interview)
  • connections to community resources available to crime victims, including referrals to agencies that help with housing, food, clothing, financial assistance, counseling, legal aid, healthcare and/or other needs
  • helping victims stay connected to the detective(s) assigned to their case
  • information about how to navigate the criminal justice system and victims' rights
  • assistance applying for funds from the State of Michigan's Crime Victim Compensation program
  • emotional support and coaching on basic coping skills
  • creation of a safety plan tailored to help victims stay safe physically and emotionally

While there are many different supports VSU can offer crime victims, they cannot:

  • give legal advice
  • pay bills or buy supplies
  • reach out to witnesses
  • directly participate in an investigation
  • process U Visa requests
  • investigate or take official complaints about GRPD personnel
  • provide therapy
  • start the process to report a crime or provide copies of police reports

The VSU currently has one full-time staff member, Clorissa Novak, the Victim Services Coordinator. Ms. Novak is not a police officer. She is part of GRPD's professional (civilian) staff and has a background in social work and victim advocacy. The VSU at times hosts academic interns from local universities who work alongside Ms. Novak in a limited capacity.

 Ms. Novak also oversees the Volunteer Victim Advocates program, a group of community members who are on-call to provide support to victims of crime involving a death and, depending on the circumstances, unexpected deaths that are non-criminal in nature.

Victims who would like assistance may contact the Victim Services Coordinator by phone or email. Response times can vary, but be assured, the Victim Service Coordinator will contact you as soon as she is able to do so. If you are experiencing an emergency before you are contacted, call 911. For connection to after-hours mental health support, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at (800) 273-8255.

Working with VSU is optional. VSU is there to provide support and connections to resources for crime victims but if you choose not to use these services, it in no way impacts the investigation, priority, or outcome of a case. You do not have to participate in the investigation of your case to receive help from the VSU.

Information shared with VSU personnel is treated as confidential with the following exceptions:

  • as law enforcement-based advocates, VSU personnel must share any case-related information with the detectives assigned to investigate the case
  • VSU personnel are mandated reporters in the State of Michigan, meaning they have to report abuse or neglect of a child or vulnerable adult and have a duty to warn if an individual makes a threat to harm themselves or others
  • Because VSU personnel are not healthcare providers, HIPAA regulations do not apply

The State of Michigan, through the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS), has a Crime Victim Compensation program available to those who have been personally physically injured during the commission of a crime or surviving family members of homicide victims. VSU staff can help crime victims complete and submit an application to get these funds but has no part in the review and processing of applications, nor in deciding the amount of an award. For more information on the MDHHS program, requirements, and how to apply, use the link below.

MDHHS Crime Victim Compensation

Download more information about Victim Services

Understanding the System(PDF, 2MB) - a guide to assist victims and others affected by crime in Grand Rapids

Victim Services Unit Brochure(PDF, 248KB) - an overview of services and resources provided by the Victim Services Unit

Victim Services Unit brochure - alternate language versions:

     Spanish(PDF, 147KB)

     Bosnian(PDF, 147KB)

     Kinyarwanda(PDF, 248KB)

     Swahili(PDF, 151KB)

     Vietnamese(PDF, 212KB)