BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — In 2003, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office saw a need and decided to fill it, establishing the Victims Assistance Unit to help those dealing with the loss and trauma of crime.

Sitting around the conference table with unit, one gets a glimpse of the need and challenges of how tough the job is. Patrice Williams said it’s a job that can be emotionally draining but even still it’s a job she loves.

”I love this job because it gives me the opportunity to be able to help people at the most traumatic time in their life,” Williams said. 

For Torri Ramsey, president of ASPIRE Workplace Solutions, meeting victims and their families where they are brings a satisfaction that she is making a difference.

”To be that person if they need to vent or a helping hand or just providing the resources because at times, they don’t know where to go,” Ramsey said.

Wanda Miller has been a part of the unit since its start back in 2003, first being recruited due to her own story as a rape survivor. It’s a story she often shares in order to help others.

”I bring that experience to the table,” Miller said. “So I know what people are feeling and what people are going through and the frustration and the whole victimization road that people have to travel.”

Renee Whitcomb, facility dog handler at the JCSO, and 3-year old golden retriever mix, Georgia, add a unique service to the youngest of those going through a traumatic event. Whitcomb said Georgia offers support in a form only a dog can, as well as helping Whitcomb accomplish a life mission.

”I know there’s a part in the Bible actually in Esther that says perhaps this was the moment for which you were created and I think we all have a calling and I think God leads us there and I think I ended up where I was supposed to be,” Whitcomb said.

The unit often speaks to community groups, teaching how to help those dealing with the after affects of traumatic crime incidents.

If you’d like to learn more or even donate items to help victims in need, call 205-325-5900.