The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office is forming a unit of community volunteers that will provide crisis intervention to individuals involved in a traumatic event.

The Sheriff’s Office recently announced the formation of the Victim Services Unit, or VSU. Undersheriff Jeff Warder says the VSU's mission " to comfort and help victims, survivors and their loved ones by providing short-term crisis intervention at the scene of a traumatic, often death-related event of crimes."

Warder says the unit's specially trained volunteers will be there for individuals while they’re dealing with these incidents, such as the death of a loved one or someone involved in a serious accident, so they know they’re not alone. Warder says the presence of the unit allows first responders and authorities to perform their duties without leaving victims in distress by themselves.

Similar units have been implemented in other counties throughout the state and have received positive feedback from both the respective sheriff’s departments and community members, according to Warder. Warder says they are currently recruiting individuals interested in becoming a member of the unit. Warder says there will be a vetting process and background check, but those looking for additional information can contact the Sheriff’s Office at 517-546-2440.

The unit will be funded by state Crime Victim Rights grant dollars through the Michigan Sheriff’s Association and local community donations. A resolution authorizing the creation of the VSU fund was approved by the Livingston County Board of Commissioners last week. The fund will record revenues and expenses for unit operations. The unit has already received $400 in grant funding and $1,000 in donations.

Livingston County Treasurer Jennifer Nash says anyone wishing to donate to the VSU fund can do so through the Sheriff's Office, with checks payable to the Livingston County Sheriff. Donations can be sent to 150 South Highlander Way Howell, MI 48843. (DK)