Victim advocate joins police department
Ryan Summerlin December 19, 2012
More than once, Tawnya Cazier has been called to an Emergency Room in the middle of the night. While heart monitors rhythmically sound in the background, as scrub-clad nurses scurry between charts, Cazier can be found at a patient bedside, the victim advocate responding to domestic violence, sexual assault, abuse.
Cazier started working as a victim advocate in Salt Lake City at the Rape Recovery Center, responding to hospital calls. She was recently hired as the first victim advocate of the Park City Police Department, creating the new position. Whether it is a fatal car crash, a bank robbery or a domestic violence call, police will be sending Cazier to the scene.
"I remember my first case," Cazier said, "and there’s nothing that can prepare you It’s a very unusual experience, in some ways it is other worldly. When I’ve responded to cases in the middle of the night, when I leave it is suddenly morning. The world kept on moving, but this person’s life will never be the same."
"It is very challenging because you never know what you are going to walk into," she added. "I wish that I didn’t have to go to a hospital. That would be a wonderful thing, but the reality is abuse, violence, that is going to happen."
The part-time position with the police department is a start, Cazier said, who hopes to find volunteers that will go through state-mandated training to help grow the victim advocate program. She has already started working with the Peace House and other Summit County programs. Cazier has even cast out lines to local churches and businesses with plans to talk to the Park City School District.
"I want to start small," Cazier said, "and I’m working with other agencies to get training up here in Park City. We would have to get approved, then train and shadow volunteers. It will be a process, but then we would have more people responding."
When asked if there was a need in Park City, Cazier was quick to say there is always a need. Statistically, one in four women in Utah will be sexually assaulted. One in eight women will be raped. Despite the picturesque mountains, the numerous community resources, there will always be a need, she said, that someone who is trained in crisis intervention is crucial for any community.
"I’m one of the first people this person going through this traumatic experience is going to see," Cazier said. "And I get to be there to help them."
"There is such a great amount of humanity I’ve been exposed to doing this," she added. "I love hearing people’s stories and finding them the help they need to heal."
For those interested in becoming a volunteer with Park City Police Department Victim Advocacy Program or to set up an appointment with Tawnya Cazier, call 435-615-5575.