On September 14, the Montana Board of Crime Control (MBCC) presented its Fall 2016 Program Highlight to the Musselshell/Golden Valley Victim/Witness Program – Survivor Assistance Dog, Pyper. The Program Highlight honors statewide or community-based criminal justice programs that merit recognition for providing effective services to address public safety-related issues.
The Musselshell/Golden Valley/Witness Assistance Program was created in 2007 to provide comfort and reduce a victim’s anxiety, resulting in more accurate interviews, improved interaction with both prosecution and defense, and reduced stress for victims of violent crime as they prepare to testify in court. The human-animal bond is strong and evidence of its power is being seen in medical and law enforcement offices throughout the country. Pyper’s presence in the court room and with victims creates a more humane and efficient system that enables all to accomplish their work in a more positive and constructive manner. Since 2010, Pyper has attended over 25 forensic interviews with children, attended nine rape examinations with adult victims, attended 11 emergency medical treatments after victimization and has attended court hearings with 22 child victims. In addition, she has logged hundreds of hours in the courtroom attending arraignments, change of plea hearings and sentencing hearings. Pyper is available to every agency throughout Montana and routinely travels to assist victims as they prepare to testify in court.
Tami Allen, Victim/Witness Advocate, commented, “We would like to thank the Montana Board of Crime Control for the recognition and support of this very important and unique program. Together Pyper and I bring about a major change in how we meet the emotional needs of victims and all involved in the criminal justice system. Pyper’s presence provides comfort to reduce the anxiety and to ease the stress for victims, primarily children, of violent crime. Judges, lawyers, victim advocates and court staff, all those who deal on a daily basis with the often horrible consequences of crime also find their morale boosted through the presence of Pyper. This beautiful girl initiates healing.”
Ms. Allen and Pyper received the award on behalf of the program at the MBCC Board of Directors Meeting and will also be recognized at the 10th Annual Crime Prevention Conference held October 5-6 in Billings.
The Montana Board of Crime Control (MBCC) is the designated state agency that administers millions of grant dollars dedicated to preventing and addressing crime statewide. MBCC is headed by an eighteen member board appointed by the Governor. Board members represent law enforcement, criminal and juvenile justice system stakeholders, and citizens, including the first Montanans, our state’s Native Americans.