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Reseda | Valley Focus

Crisis Response Team Helps Crime Victims

August 13, 1997|SYLVIA L. OLIANDE

The civilian Crisis Response Team for the LAPD's West Valley Division is working to offset the cost of helping crime victims and their families.

The team of neighborhood volunteers, which was formed last October, has shouldered all the costs of providing pagers for each of its 20 members, as well as other expenses.

Participants are in the process of establishing the group as a nonprofit organization so that it can apply for grants to help continue operating.

"We don't have an income and [pay] no dues," Ellie Vargas, a team founder, said Tuesday. "But we have bills."

The first step toward nonprofit status was establishing a board of directors, made up of Vargas, a retired nurse, Lana Kuhlen, a co-founder of the team, and James M. Rene, an attorney.

Team members are on call around the clock, ready to help comfort crime victims or their families.

They provide an understanding shoulder to cry on, as well as guidance on how to recover from a tragedy.

Vargas said one visit she made that has stayed with her was the time she responded to a suicide and had to comfort the man's two young daughters who had found him in the home.

Though the task before them can often be emotionally draining, team members are motivated by a sense of community, and wanting to help others, she said.

Team members also help officers perform a dreaded assignment, notifying people when a loved one has died, and then staying with the family after the officers leave.

"When we respond to deaths or traffic accidents, any of those situations that are real traumatic, a little more tender loving care than we can provide is needed," said Senior Lead Officer Tim Kidd of the LAPD, an advisor to the team.

"It's good to get some people who could respond to situations like these out on the field and help these victims," Kidd said.

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