Two Sheriff’s Office victim specialists receive awards
On Nov. 10, two victim specialists from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office received prestigious awards at the 22nd annual COVA (Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance) Conference. Adam Ford and Vicki Jones were duly recognized in front of 1,100 of their counterparts at one of the largest state conferences for victim services in the nation.
Out of six award categories, Ford and Jones both received the top designation of “Outstanding Victim Advocate Award within the Public Sector” – usually only one recipient is selected per category per year. Fellow members of the Sheriff’s Office as well as Glenwood Police Chief Terry Wilson, Childhelp River Bridge Director Susan Ackerman and the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office nominated them for their selfless contributions throughout the county.
Ford serves as the Victim Services coordinator for not only the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, but also for the six police departments in the county. He oversees a team of 13 volunteers who are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to meet the needs of children and adults alike who find themselves the victims of heinous crimes, survivors of traffic accidents, families displaced due to structure fires, loved ones awaiting word on search and rescue efforts, and many other scenarios too numerous to mention.
Jones serves as the Victim Services community liaison whose Spanish-speaking abilities allow her to help victims and their families who would otherwise be lost in the process and thus not receive the care they need. Her sensitivity and cultural competence in our Latino communities has helped to address painful issues that otherwise would go unanswered.
Ford and Jones support law enforcement officials and victims in dealing with the very worst of situations, assist families in the healing process and help explain the often confusing and lengthy court process to those unfamiliar with the system. They ensure each victim receives the level of care and attention that we all would want if it were our family member at the center of the issue. “Our volunteer services are only as good as the volunteers behind the program, and there are no more committed volunteers then what we see in our agency,” said Ford.
“How they manage to be everywhere is a mystery to those of us who count on their services,” said Susan Ackerman, director of Child Help River Bridge.
“Sheriff Vallario’s dedication and commitment to the victims in the county ensure the resources needed for us to be everywhere needed,” said Ford.
The efforts and tangible impact Ford and Jones have made to Garfield County and its communities is a direct reflection of the investment Sheriff Lou Vallario has made to the Victim Services program. The sheriff sees victim response as his highest priority; he puts support for victims and its related resources above all else. Sheriff Vallario’s motto for the Victim Response Team is “No Victim Left Behind.”
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.