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Enhancing Response to Victims: A Formative Evaluation of OVC’s Law Enforcement-Based Victim Services (LEV) Program

NCJ Number
Date Published
122 pages

This study evaluates the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) Law Enforcement-Based Victim Services (LEV) program.


In 2021, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) funded RTI International, in partnership with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), to conduct a formative evaluation of the Office for Victims of Crime’s (OVC) Law Enforcement-Based Victim Services (LEV) program, which aimed to develop new or enhance existing victim services (VS) programs. This final research report provides a summary of the project, including goals and objectives, research questions, research design and methods, study findings, and recommendations. The purpose of the LEV grant is to help LEAs develop or enhance and sustain system-based victim advocacy within their agencies. The evaluation team did not identify distinct program models but did find a clustering of program characteristics such that new programs tend to be supervised by sworn officers, offer fewer services, and have fewer internal and external partners. This reinforces that VS programs need time to grow and evolve, and expectations around program capacity and staff responsibilities should be realistic. LEV programs sought to increase capacity to provide trauma-informed services to victims, increase agency awareness about VS program resources, develop and expand community partnerships, and sustain these efforts after grant funding ends. The LEV program is evaluable, but given the complexity of LEV, traditional counterfactual-based evaluation designs are not feasible and would not produce actionable results. The authors recommend implementing a mixed-methods theory-based evaluation that triangulates findings from LEA and VS program administrative data and surveys or interviews with both stakeholders (i.e., LE-VS specialists, internal partners, and external partners) and LEV clients. The findings presented in this report have laid a foundation on which to continue learning about what is (and is not) working.

Date Published: January 1, 2023