April 29, 2019
Social work instructor recognized for service to crime victims
Debi Holcomb, instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences' social work program, was recognized for her service to crime victims during the Crime Victims' Rights Conference in Wichita in early April.
Holcomb was presented the Outstanding Statewide Champion Advocacy Award by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt during an awards ceremony yesterday.
The conference was hosted by both Attorney General Schmidt and Gov. Laura Kelly. It featured a number of speakers and trainers focused on raising awareness of emerging crimes and offering new approaches to respond to enduring crimes, such as child abuse, domestic violence and human trafficking.
Holcomb began her victim services career in 1993 when she became a volunteer, and then night staff for the Crisis Center Inc. Three years later, she was the protection from abuse coordinator in Geary County, then the volunteer coordinator for the Crisis Center.
By 1998, Holcomb developed the first Police Response Advocacy Program in Kansas. This was the first program in Kansas to have advocates respond to domestic violence calls while police were on-scene.
Holcomb created and then became the first director of the Office of Victim Services for the Kansas Department of Corrections, giving it a solid foundation from which it has survived and thrived, helping thousands of victims each year. While serving in that capacity, Holcomb created and implemented the KDOC Victim/Offender Dialogue Program, the Victim Service Liaison Program in parole, implemented the Interstate Compact Victim Notification in Kansas, and victim prison tours for those who were interested.
Throughout her years as an advocate, Holcomb focused much of her victim service work on addressing domestic violence effectively. This culminated in her being an analyst and coordinator for the Kansas Domestic Violence Fatality Review, leading the state in determining findings and pursuing appropriate policy changes.