Supporting the Witness Support Fund helps fight crime
"Due to everything that was going on, I was not working and I was on leave from my job with no money and funds to go back and forth to finalize details in my town."
Troy Rogers, Public Safety Coordinator reads a thank you letter from a young single mother who needed to get out of town after surviving a shooting and helping police name the shooter.
Rogers says the Witness Support Fund offers protection to help witnesses and victims of violence who cooperate with police and testify against the accused.
Troy Rogers, "It's for people who say hey I will tell you what happened so we can put this perpetrator in jail. I can be moving, job relocation, it can be writing letters for employers."
The fund was started two years ago after Bianca Horton's death. Horton was set to testify against the man accused of shooting her baby and killing another person. She was murdered before she made it to the witness stand.
Caroline Huffaker, Victim Services Coordinator, "Her case is what really tipped off the need for us to truly support victims and witnesses to crimes."
Horton's case prompted community leaders to urge the mayor to create the fund to support survivors.
Troy Rogers, "A lot of the times people feel like there's nobody there for them, so they don't say anything or there's no way for me to get out or I live next door to the person or I know him."
Victim Service coordinators create a plan to maintain a survivor's safety and help them navigate court proceedings.
Caroline Huffaker, "They are wanting to participate in the criminal justice process. They want to engage with the department but that might have consequences."
The funds help find shelter and in some cases with relocation. It's assistance Lieutenant Anthony Easter says can be the difference between life or death.
Lt. Anthony Easter, SVU, Chattanooga Police Department, "Where the victim's life is in danger, it is absolutely pivotal that we get them out of that situation and protected and moved to another place."
Rogers says the need is great. He hopes to see more cases solved, but finds hope in letters like this one that the people brave enough to help can be kept safe.
"Many times there are organizations that offer help and support but that is it. They were here for me emotionally and assured me everything would be okay.
Thank you so much and now I'm able to breathe and smile."
If you would like to donate call 423-266-5483 Thursday between 5:00 and 7:00 a.m, 12:00 p,m - 1:00 p.m. and 5:00-6:30 p.m. or you can donate online.