Tuesday, September 13, 2016

IN THE NEWS: San Bernardino terror attack conference focuses on victims

Bureau of Victim Services Chief Flerida Alarcon poses for a photo with Lupe and Dozer--members of the Special Victims K-9 Unit. Alarcon participated in the conference to discuss the District Attorney's response on Dec. 2 and the services and still being provided today.
LOS ANGELES >> Dozens of first-responders, victim advocates and other experts came together Tuesday to talk about the insights gathered from the Dec. 2 San Bernardino terror attack including how to take a more victim-centered approach to mass casualty incidents.

The day-long event was hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office at the California Endowment Center at 1000 North Alameda St. in downtown Los Angeles.

“It’s the first of its kind in our district and possibly in the nation,” said US Attorney Eileen Decker Tuesday morning.

As authorities dealt with the aftermath of the attack — the deadliest on American soil by Islamic extremists since Sept. 11, 2001 — from an investigative and administrative standpoint, it was clear one of the major points that should not be left out is how victims are treated during and, sometimes more importantly, after such a devastating event, she said.

“Victims need all the assistance that we can afford them,” she said noting that some needed counseling, others needed help navigating through the county’s worker’s compensation system.

Decker said she hopes the conference will help assistance agencies, including prosecutors, to take a victim-centered approach to these events.

“We’ve attended many conferences that were strictly focused on the attack and police response,” San Bernardino Assistant Police Chief Eric McBride, who was also a speaker at the conference, said during a phone interview later in the day. “But it was nice to be involved in a conference that focused solely on the victims and how to better serve them.”

Along with first responders who were there the day of the attack, victim advocate groups scheduled to speak were FBI victim specialists Claire Balanay and Debbie Deem and Flerida Alarcon, chief of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office Victim Services.

They were among five experts on a panel addressing preparations needed to assist victims following a mass casualty incident.

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