In this episode, retired Assistant Director of the FBI Victim Services Division (VSD), Kathryn Turman reviews the victim service specialist position and the major cases and crisis events her staff has deployed to, providing assistance and support to victims around the world.
Kathryn Turman served in the FBI for 20 years. She was the head of the VSD from 2002 – 2020. Selected for the position by FBI Director Robert Mueller, she developed and led the FBI’s response to 9/11 victims, victims of more than 100 acts of terrorism overseas, and to more than 35 terrorism and mass violence events across the U.S.
Victim services professionals at the FBI inform, support, and assist victims in navigating the aftermath of crime and the criminal justice process with dignity and resilience.
Beginning with six employees in 2002, the FBI VSD is now comprised of almost 300 victim specialists, terrorism victim services coordinators, child/adolescent forensic interviewers, child victim services specialists, an international hostage family engagement team, and operational psychologists.
“One of the things I’ve learned working with victims and families of homicide and terrorism victims is they’re going to imagine what happened to their loved one. They’re going to want to know what happened.”—Kathryn Turman, Retired Assistant Director of the FBI’s Victim Services Division
During her Bureau career, Kathryn established a terrorism and mass violence Victim Services Response Team (VSRT) that has become an international model.
Prior to the joining the FBI, Kathryn served in the Department of Justice as Director of the Missing and Exploited Children’s Program, Chief of the Victim Witness Assistance Unit in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and Director of the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). She began her public service career as an aide to the late Senator John Heinz.
Kathryn received the Edmund J. Randolph Award, the highest honor provided by the Department of Justice, for her work with Pan Am 103/Lockerbie families. She received the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service, two National Crime Victims Service Awards, two National Intelligence Meritorious Citations, and is one of the few Federal employees to receive Presidential Rank Awards for both Meritorious and Distinguished Service.
Now retired and living in the Nashville area, Kathryn volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children.
The following are photos and links to articles and videos about the VSD:
FBI Website: Victim Services Division
FBI Website – 6/10/2020: ‘Empathetic Pioneer’ Retiring -Kathryn Turman
FBI Website: Rights of Federal Crime Victims
FBI Website – 10/25/2019: FBI Training Course Aims to ELEVATE Victim Services
FBI Website: FBI Crisis Response Canines
FBI Jobs Website: VICTIM SERVICES CAREERS
FBI Press release – 9/29/2023: FBI Dedicates Additional Investigative and Victim Specialist Resources to Indigenous Women and Children in Indian Country
Listen to these FBI Retired Case File Review episodes highlighting the work of victim services: