Real Talk: Homeland Security Victim Assistance

Realt Talk with CJ logo

Tue., April 19, 2011
2-3 P.M.
CJava Cafe

Tyeshia Miller-Williams is called in to assist victims of federal crimes, including human trafficking, child pornography, and cyber crime.

Miller-Williams is a Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security in the Gulf Coast region, a relatively new service for the national security agency and a growing field in victim services among other federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Attorneys’ Offices. At Homeland Security, Miller-Williams’ job is to aid victims during the investigative process of federal crimes involving the protection of national security.

"I think the importance of my position is that it gives a voice to victims through out the investigative process," said Miller-Williams. "We ensure that the investigation process always has the victim in mind."

In her position, which was created just two years ago, Williams ensures that victims are placed in a safe environment once they are removed from criminal activity by law Enforcement and are linked with non-profit services in the community, such as housing, financial assistance, social services or legal aid. The office also keeps the victims informed throughout the progression of the criminal case.

"We are a liaison and link to non-profit organizations," said Miller-Williams.

Most of the cases Miller-Williams deals with in the Gulf Coast area involve cases of child pornography or human trafficking. She also helps victims of cybercrime fraud when federal charges are involved.

With cases of child pornography, if the child can be identified, the office assists children and their families with understanding the federal system and services available. The families are kept abreast of the progress of the case, and the child and families are referred to a child advocacy center for counseling services.

While Victims Services does not provide assistance with obtaining immigration status, they work to link victims with local non profit agencies which can assist them with their immigration issues.

Many federal agencies have added or are planning to add victim’s service positions, but the opportunities are not widely advertised. Miller-Williams suggests that college students interested in these careers should be prepared to articulate how past experiences can relate to current activities at the federal level to aid victims.

Before joining Homeland Security Victims Assistance last year, Miller-Williams worked for 15 years either in direct service or as executive director at social services agencies in the community. She was Executive Director of the Resource and Crisis Center in Galveston, which deals with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. She also served as Executive Director of The Gathering Place, which provided employment training and socialization for people with chronic mental illness. Miller-Williams also is a veteran of the U.S. Army, where she served for a total of eight years.

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