After some discussion, the commissioners granted her request.
“The purpose of expanding the position from part-time to full-time is to effectively serve the victims of crime in Spalding County,” Crane said in an e-mail interview.
The original part-time position primarily dealt with victims of domestic violence. The addition of the position will enable the victim’s advocacy staff to deal with crimes as diverse as terrorism, torture, gang violence, elder abuse, financial abuse and aggravated assault.
The position will initially be more office-based, enabling Crane to spend more time in the field.
“My goal right now is to have someone in here to answer the phones when victims call in for assistance, be able to make appointments or contact counselors and different resources we’re offering for them (the victims),” she said. “Eventually I’m hoping she will be trained and be able to go out also.”
Crane’s position and the thirty-hour, part-time position are funded by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant, which is a grant from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council for victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes.
The additional funding needed to expand the position to full-time with benefits will come from the Five Percent Add-On Fines Account, an additional five percent fee added on to the fines and fees levied on all criminals, that goes into an account meant for victims’ assistance.
County Commissioner Dave Phillips made a motion to approve Crane’s request before the discussion began.
“I think it’s something that’s been neglected, to be honest,” Phillips said.
He added that Spalding County has many victims of crimes and few people to speak for them. Much of Spalding County’s population is rural and think “it can’t happen to me.”
He thinks that Crane knows what she’s doing.
“She’s a first responder. April was a deputy before she became a victim’s advocate,” Phillips said. “She’s worked the roads, she knows the ugly side of the world.”
He feels that extensive experience with violent crime is important to this position — trusting an inexperienced person with this job would be like relying on a newly-minted mechanic to fix your car.
“It (the victim’s advocacy program) never got organized as it should have gotten organized and I think April is on top of that,” Phillips said.