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Why We Love This Place Wednesdays: Latoya Salas and Lassen County Victim Witness Assistance

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

By Terra Avilla

At a time in our history where so much is changing, and so much is uncertain, one thing that brings me sanity is knowing that good people are still out there doing good things.

One of those good people who has not stopped doing good things for others is someone who I have been lucky enough to call my friend over the past seven years and that person is Latoya Salas with Lassen County Victim Witness Assistance.

Latoya is a native to our community, so many of you might know her through your own personal relationships over the years. And if you are lucky enough to call her a friend like I do, you can easily say that she is caring and compassionate.

For those of you who met her through her career, you would say that she uses those skills to advocate for you. To care for you as you navigate the criminal justice system and, while conditions and guilty verdicts may be a step to making you feel whole, her support through the process is irreplaceable.

Before I became a police officer, I was lucky enough to have no idea what a “victim advocate” was or what they did. Being a police officer now, I can tell you the work they do makes a huge difference.

A victim may be afraid to testify, which can add complications in successfully prosecuting the case. However, with the aid of our District Attorney and the advocates from Victim Witness, witnesses and victims are provided open communication and information to help ease their anxiety.

And it’s not just Latoya that makes up this wonderful department.

Lassen County District Attorney Susan Rios commends Latoya on her fifteen years of service for the program, and added Twyla Braninburg has been with the department for two years. DA Rios added her office recently hired Reka Mejia and although has only been with them for a few months, however is making a huge difference in reaching out to Spanish speaking victims.

While it may never be possible to make a victim of a crime completely whole, the DA, with the assistance of these ladies, do their best to ease anxiety, help the victims seek restitution or reimbursement, and prepare them for their journey through the criminal justice program.

I come in contact with a lot of the victims, who are so thankful for this office and the work these ladies do.

I know that when I have a parent crying because their child was the victim of a crime, that when I refer to them to Victim Witness, they are going to be in the best hands possible. They are being referred to people who legitimately care about the work they do, and the people the serve.

Victim Witness Assistance, will never be able to really advertise all that they do, as they would never want to jeopardize the privacy of the individuals they serve, but I can tell you that what they do for our community is nothing short of amazing, and I want them to know on behalf of all of us, that we greatly appreciate them.

They are a constant source of compassion and will forever be, one of the reasons, I love the place we live.

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