IN THE WAKE of a homicide, "a lot goes on," said Officer Kathryn M. Battle, Homicide Unit Victims Assistance liaison, who is tasked with showing victims' families "the human side" of the Police Department.
"Our objective is to show them . . . that we do care about them as a family, that their loved one is a person to us, not just a number," Battle said.
Through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, homicide victims' next of kin are entitled to up to $6,500 for funeral expenses to offset any costs not covered by insurance. Families can also file claims for counseling, loss of support and earnings, relocation and crime-scene cleanup.
The Police Department is required by state law to notify families of victims' compensation within 48 hours of the homicide.
The day after a homicide, Battle said, she usually calls the family to offer condolences and let them know about victims' compensation. She sends a 12-page packet to the family and eventually makes a home visit to help with filing claims if the family needs it.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey also brought the idea of next-of-kin meetings, which the Police Department adopted a few years ago, from his tenure in Washington, D.C. At the once-a-year meetings, the closest relatives to victims whose cases were unsolved in the previous year are invited to meet with detectives on the case, a representative from the Medical Examiner's Office, prosecutors from the District Attorney's Office and various social-service and victim-support organizations.
As for families of victims in older cases, Battle said she is always a phone call away. "When an investigator goes there, his objective is to solve the crime," Battle said. "Our objective is to help the family heal and to come back to some type of normalcy."