Kent Volkmer Board of Supervisors

Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer speaks before the Board of Supervisors during a meeting last year.

FLORENCE — Services available to young and vulnerable crime victims in western Pinal County will be more convenient to those in the more sparsely populated eastern end of the county as county staff work toward establishing a Family Advocacy Center in Oracle.

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors last week authorized county staff to apply for two grants of $25,000 each from the National Children’s Alliance to help equip the center. The center will need medical, video and recording equipment, Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer told the board.

Volkmer said county staff are committed to establishing the new FAC in eastern Pinal, and if they can also win a grant to offset costs, “we’re eager to do so.”

Pinal Facilities Director Archie Carreon and Public Health Director Tascha Spears are at work renovating a building in Oracle for a satellite FAC, Volkmer said. County staff would travel to this new center to conduct interviews and medical exams as needed.

A FAC assists vulnerable people who have been victims of a crime or are involved in a crime, especially children and the elderly. It offers medical examinations, help for abuse victims, advocacy and a safe space for families.

The county operates FACs in San Tan Valley and Eloy and last year agreed to take over operation of a FAC begun by the city of Maricopa. Supervisor Kevin Cavanaugh, R-Coolidge, voted against the Maricopa facility last year, in part because it still leaves out the eastern part of the county.

Volkmer agreed at the time that eastern Pinal was underserved but said it’s harder to justify the expense of equipping and staffing a center there. The existing FACs serve perhaps 10 to 15 victims per year from the Copper Corridor area. But if there were a FAC there, more victims would come forward for services, Volkmer said at the time.

Volkmer told the board that a FAC helps crime victims by serving as “a one-stop shop, where there’s one interview, and it’s being recorded by a professional.” A victim avoids the further trauma of repeated interviews and examinations as different jurisdictions investigate, Volkmer said.

A FAC also helps exonerate the innocent because sometimes people make false claims in divorces and other cases, Volkmer said. It’s not designed to prosecute people but to arrive at the truth, he said.

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.

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