ARIZONA NEWS

Phoenix police renovate family advocacy center to give crime victims more privacy, comfort

Apr 16, 2024, 4:35 AM

Domestic violence and sexual assault victims focus of project...

Various renovations at a crime reporting facility in Phoenix will help make victims more comfortable, police said. (Heidi Hommel photos/KTAR News)

(Heidi Hommel photos/KTAR News)

PHOENIX — Survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault have a newly renovated space to feel comfort and support when they go to report crimes.

The Phoenix Police Foundation held an unveiling event at the Phoenix Family Advocacy Center on Monday.

The Phoenix Family Advocacy Center is where victims of domestic violence and sexual assault tell their stories to detectives, receive medical examinations and document their injuries.

Officials said they renovated the center to provide more compassion, support and dignity for victims of these types of crimes.

Why Phoenix Family Advocacy Center needed a change

The facility offers various services, including crisis intervention, counseling, forensic medical examinations and investigative interviews.

Phoenix Police Commander Sara Garza spearheaded the movement to renovate the office space. She said she walked into the old waiting center four years ago and decided the space needed to change.

Before the renovations, officials would walk victims through office space with detectives working sex crimes cases, Garza said. This didn’t provide privacy because people could overhear the victims’ conversations.

“The faces of the women on one of the worst days of their lives still resonate, for their courageousness in reporting deserves better than a cramped room with no privacy,” Garza said.

How upgrades help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault

The renovations include an updated lobby with comfortable couches and private waiting rooms for families. The improved interview rooms have fresh paint, plush brown leather chairs and a basket of blankets on the floor. All the artwork hanging on the walls is plain and neutral, made with soothing colors.

The interview rooms are adjacent to the medical examination rooms where nurses administer rape kits and photograph any injuries.

The newly renovated victim advocacy center will support both crime victims and detectives, police said.

“The cases worked in this building are some of the most difficult, but rewarding in all of police work,” Garza said.

Detectives’ cubicles are now in a shared office with collaborative working space and adjustable desks for standing. There is also a room with leather reclining sofas for detectives to decompress after a heavy interview or take a quick nap during a long shift.

Phoenix City Councilwoman Ann O’Brien said the space is more than just a building. It’s a beacon of hope, compassion and healing for victims and their families.

“It sends a powerful message to survivors that they are not alone and that their voices matter and that help, and support are always within reach,” O’Brien said.

She hopes the cozy and calming Phoenix Family Advocacy Center empowers more people to come forward and report crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

Garza agreed with O’Brien’s sentiment.

“Crimes of sex sexual and domestic violence are widely underreported nationwide. Stigma, fear and, dare I say, shame were words historically attributed to not reporting these crimes,” Garza said.

About 1,000 survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault will come through the facility over the next year, she said.

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Phoenix police renovate family advocacy center to give crime victims more privacy, comfort