WESTMINSTER, Colo. — When a crime occurs, police answer the call. When a victim of a crime needs support, a victim advocate is there.
“A victim advocate deals in compassion services. They come out and they see people at their worst,” Westminster Police Chief Norm Haubert said.
“Our victim advocates respond to both crime and personal tragedy,” Drew Hogan, victim services coordinator for the Westminster Police Department, said. “Our victim advocates meet people at the crime scene, at the hospital, on the side of a road, in their homes, in the police department. All kinds of places where people are impacted by a crime.”
Victim advocates work with law enforcement in Westminster. The police department says they respond to an average of 2,600 calls annually.
“The services they provide on a daily basis for individuals in our community are absolutely priceless. I can’t imagine us being able to do this without them,” Chief Haubert said.
Deb Oster has been volunteering as a victim advocate for more than 20 years.
“I went to a call where someone’s dog got hit by a car. I’m crying with the owner. I’m an animal lover,” Oster said. “Any age, any race, anything. Domestic violence, suicides, robberies, so many things. If it’s traumatizing to somebody, we can help them.”
Oster has helped countless people over the years and her compassion does not go unnoticed.
“Often, we have people call back and say, ‘I just want to talk to Deb again.’ She leaves such an impression on people,” Hogan said. “She just has such an open heart and a non-judgmental spirit. I think people feel immediately comfortable with her.”
But Deb said she wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of the group she is surrounded by.
“We have some ugly callouts, and we have to really recover from them. I’ve got a good team to help me through,” she said. “There’s been a couple times where I thought, ‘Man, I can’t do this.’ But you’re helping the families with suicides and things like that. You’re helping the families.”
Oster received a reward of recognition in July, as she surpassed her 10,000th volunteer hour mark.
“Her caring is endless. When we meet with victims, it’s not a pleasant circumstance and sometimes we can carry a lot of that trauma home with us,” Hogan said. “You have to purge some of that, but she comes back and helps every day.”
“I don’t plan on going anywhere,” Oster added. “Until I can’t walk this Earth, I’ll be there.”
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