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The Role of Victim Assistance Professionals in Responding to Mass Violence Incidents

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2018
2 pages

This tip sheet from the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center defines the role of victim assistance professionals (VAPs) in the response phase of a mass violence incident (MVI).


The tip sheet notes that the label of "victim assistance professional" refers to a variety of professionals who support victims of mass violence. Although some of the tips may pertain to all VAPs, others may be relevant to only a subset of VAPs. The 10 responsibilities common in VAP work in the response phase of a MVI are as follows: 1) Partner with allied agencies in providing centralized, collaborative leadership and communication; 2) Be present at the Joint Information Center and Joint Operations Center to enhance the accuracy of information and communications related to VAPs at the Response Center (RC); 3) Assist in establishing the initial RC and Family Assistance Center (FAC) with "go kits" prepared to include relevant victim information and forms, supplies, and technology support for RCs and FACs; 4) Help law enforcement in establishing an area within the RC and FAC that is separate for victim/survivor and witness interviews and victim identification; 5) Assist in creating accurate lists of victims and survivors by working with law enforcement, medical examiners, and other first responders; 6) Help facilitate the return of property lost or damaged; 7) Demonstrate best practices for victim/survivor privacy and confidentiality in all communications and casework; 8) Conduct victim/survivor needs assessments and establish case-management protocols that are survivor-centered and trauma-informed; 9) Help survivors understand and apply for crime victim compensation; and 10) Provide psychological first aid (PFA) and support to anyone directly impacted by the MVI.