BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — Victims of crime in Broken Arrow have an advocate in their corner, and she’s a former police officer dedicated to help victims get the help and services they need.
Barbara Jones, Family & Children’s Services’ victims of crime advocate embedded at the Police Department’s justice complex at 1101 N. Sixth St., brings a savvy to her job born and bred on the streets of Chicago’s Southside, but one also laced with the empathy and understanding only parenthood can produce.
“I think we all have something different in us that we’re either attracted to or is attractive to us,” said Jones, of her desire to help victims.
Jones’ law enforcement career began in Chicago, where she patrolled the Gresham neighborhood bordering one of the worst areas for crime in the country, the city’s Englewood district. She spent eight years in the Windy City, and the experience was an eye-opening one for her.
“I didn’t know people fought in their homes,” Jones said. “My parents argued, but they didn’t fight. So i had never seen any of that. Just going in to homes as a patrol officer, seeing the injuries and how people were responding to it.”
She felt helpless in a way. Cops can respond and take immediate action in such situations, but they often never get to go back and check up on people they help.
“You always wonder, ‘What are they doing now? Did she really move out? Did they really take the kid?’ That kind of thing. I think that was the beginning of this kind of job for me.”
She and her late husband, Albert, had adopted a 2-year-old boy, and the couple was looking for a better area to raise him. They settled on Broken Arrow where she joined the force in 1998. After a year on patrol, she became an investigator in domestic violence and child crimes, and later worked as a school resource officer.
“I just really like the way that they approach law enforcement here,” Jones said. “It’s kind of holistic if you can think of it like that … They just really try to assess the needs of the family.”
But the long hours away from home and late night calls proved to be too trying with her son at home, so she resigned to home school him. She wouldn’t return until 2013, when a colleague at BAPD called about the victims of crime advocate position that was open.
While being a detective was a dream realized, she thought then her entire life had prepared her for the position. She could interface with police officers, a population she understood and knew, and victims, a population she wanted to help, especially parents going through things with which she could identify. She applied and got it.
F&CS had a contract with the city to provide an advocate to connect crime victims to services and resources in the area, everything from getting protective orders and counseling to attending court with victims and driving a sexual assault victim to an appointment with a S.A.N.E. nurse – just about anything else to help victims navigate the legal system to a good outcome. The position is funded through money from the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council.
Jones took the job in September 2013, and her husband died the following January. Dealing with that loss helps her connect victims with grief counseling. One thing she’s learned: nearly all of the people needing counseling have had some type of traumatic event in their past that is causing them issues today.
“Somebody died when they were seven. Somebody divorced. Somebody gave them up. Somebody left. Somebody committed suicide. Just all of those things … But there’s hope because get better.”
F&CS’ VOCA program has helped 2,840 people since it began in 2012, with numbers for 2015 still in the works.
She hopes to go on ride-alongs with police to provide even more help to victims. But the biggest thing about her job that she loves, she said, is the fact that she gets to support people trying to affect change in their lives, whether that’s making them safer or get someone causing trouble off the streets.