FORREST COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - The Forrest County Sheriff’s Department is excited to announce a new department offering victim services. Derica Killingsworth is the victim advocate who offers resources and support to victims of crimes.
“When you come into victim services, you aren’t coming in here because you just want to say hello or just to check in. You’re coming here because you’ve had something happen to you,” Killingsworth said.
Something like aggravated assault, sexual battery and even child abuse or neglect. Killingsworth said she works with victims of crimes because she is passionate about helping people. She previously served as a victim’s advocate for the Hattiesburg Police Department and said it can be a difficult job.
“Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming, you know, just with situations and me knowing most of the people in my community,” Killingsworth said. “It was getting to be a little too personal, so I was looking for other work.”
Killingsworth shared that her family was impacted when someone she loved became a victim of crime.
“And it just so happened my cousin got killed and I knew then – I knew there was more work to do,” she said.
So Killingsworth continues to serve people.
It’s a job and department Sheriff Charlie Sims agrees is necessary.
“It’s unfortunate that people become victims of crimes, but what’s even more unfortunate is that sometimes, depending on the agency, they have to go through that process themselves,” Sims said. “A victim advocate is there for them. They’re there to make sure they have all the information, they’re educated on what’s going to happen, they’re there for them in court.”
“Once a victim comes in, we can create a safety plan or we can go over protection orders if it’s needed or, you know, some people, they have issues covering the medical expenses that comes with the incident itself,” Killingsworth added.
Sims said the addition of Killingsworth will help the department better serve the community.
“We’ve got a great person in Derica who is very compassionate and very passionate about the victim advocate program,” Sims said. “We’re going to benefit from it, the citizens of Forrest County will benefit as well.”
Victims of crimes in Forrest County can contact Killingsworth at her email, email@example.com, or by calling her office at 601-606-9088.