Brittany Jeffers of the Saginaw Police Department gave a guest lecture to students on Oct. 5 as part of the Saginaw Valley State University Criminal Justice Society’s guest lecture series.
Jeffers currently serves as the unit coordinator for the Saginaw Police Department Victim Services Division, as well as handling grant funding and other services for the department.
In her presentation, Jeffers explained her role in, and the overall function of, the Victim Services Division, as well as general trends and future plans for the department.
She described how the Victim Services Division has had ties to SVSU since 2017, one year after its launch. SVSU partners with the division to compile data, statistics, and research on its impacts, as the division is still partially funded by federal grants, and needs to be justified to the City Council for fixed allocations.
The Victim Services Division also boasts being one of the first of its kind in the state, and one of the most comprehensive both statewide and nationally, winning an award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police in 2019 for its quality and service.
Jeffers also explained the structure of the division, which has two victim advocates in addition to Jeffers. Cases are assigned by Jeffers to the victim advocates based on crime type, ranging from property crimes to more violent interpersonal crimes.
Advocates act as a liaison between the victim and law enforcement through the criminal justice process.
While some cases may take up to or over a year to make it to court, advocates provide important updates on the case, information, resources,and even appear on scene to provide gas cards, clothing, door jambs, and other critical items to help keep people safe.
“Advocates are working with victims for quite some time,” Jeffers said. “They are there supporting them, and making sure that they understand the processes of the criminal justice system.”
The Criminal Justice Society regularly hosts guest lectures on different facets of the field, with their next lecture to be expected later this semester.
SVSU’s Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Sheruni Ratnabalasuriar, gave a bit of the history of the Criminal Justice Society at SVSU:
“The RSO has been here before I came to SVSU in 2012,” she said. “Over time, it evolved into a professional development series. We’ve had speakers who work in policing, courts, the FBI, ATF, even loss prevention.”
She explained how the professional speakers help criminal justice students get a better idea of field work and the criminal justice system as a whole, describing how alumni of as long as 20 years back love to visit with the students and provide them with support and advice.
Ratnabalasuriar expanded on the RSO’s impact on students, both in and out of the criminal justice department:
“We used to do a lot of charity and fundraising in the community, but it got pushed aside due to the pandemic,” she said. “One fundraiser we did was a self-defense class with officer Kyle Barber, the admission was a five-dollar donation, it was so much fun for everyone involved.”