Pam Traylor started out as a Victim Assistance volunteer in the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office before eventually becoming the Victim Assistance Coordinator in the DA’s Office.
“I found out about victims assistance through an ad in a newspaper, and I was in between jobs and so I thought I’d try this for a while, said Traylor. I was a 40 hour a week volunteer, and learned all about victim assistance, got lots of training and I decided that was the career I wanted to go towards, and never even thought that was anything I was interested in until that time.”
Traylor said the volunteering was basically what she’s doing now.
“It was helping victims through the court system, keeping them informed and making sure they understood what was going on and things like that.”
After volunteering, Traylor said she needed a paying job, so she started working as a receptionist in the office.
“They didn’t have a paying position in Victim Assistance at that time, so l took the receptionist position, then moved into intake, then they (DA) had a grant approved, and so then I went back to Victim Assistance.”
Traylor said being the Victim Assistance Coordinator involves helping victims navigate through the court system.
“They never ask to be here, and so it’s confusing to a lot of them, it’s traumatizing, so we try to make sure that it’s as stressless as possible. We try to help them understand, keep them up to date, make sure they have resources available that they need, be there with them during court.”
Traylor said she and her team also help prepare victims for trial, if they are going to testify in court.
Traylor said something that’s made a big difference to victims and their families is the Courthouse Dog program, which she started for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office in 2012.
“I started with Ranger (he passed away in 2016), and that was just a blessing to our victims, and I don’t know how we did it before.” It’s just so helpful to our victims in helping them be comforted and not feel as stressed.”
Traylor now works with a golden retriever named Sumi.
“Especially with kids, she’ll go in the courtroom, sit with them when they have to testify and help them feel comfortable, secure, safe and help them be able to do it and say their truth.”
Traylor said Sumi originally came from Guide Dogs for the Blind, but she has a cataract, which is not going to affect her sight.
“That caused her to not be able to go forward in any of the programs with Guide Dogs for the Blind, so she became a career change dog. Service Dogs Incorporated, which is where we got Ranger and Chaco (another victims assistance dog that no longer works for the DA’s Office), picked her up as a career change dog.” Because of her disposition and her training from the age of eight weeks, she was perfect for a courthouse dog.”
Traylor said she went for training with Sumi.
“They follow up and continue training, and make sure that we’re doing well and there’s no issues and no concerns.”
Traylor is retiring this week, but Sumi is not retirement age; she’s three years old.
“Service Dogs (Incorporated) retains the right to the dogs to make sure we’re using them for what they give them to us for, their services, and make sure we’re taking care of them, keeping the training up that they have. Also, health wise, vets visits.” As long as I’m using her for the purpose that she came here for, then I should be able to keep her.”
Traylor said she has lot of plans for Sumi.
“The DA’s Office is still going to use Sumi and me on a volunteer basis. She’ll be doing the same thing she was doing prior with victims. As far as trial prep, and going into the courtroom during trial, she’ll still be doing that. “They’ll just give me a call and we’ll schedule on the calendar when she’s needed.”
Traylor is also going to volunteer at Children’s Safe Harbor.
Traylor said there are a lot of good memories she has working as the Victim Assistance Coordinator.
“We try to kind of leave one case and start the next, and so we try not to dwell on the bad stuff, that’s the only way we can cope, and we just get prepared for the next one. The success stories, of course, to me, are the ones when the victims come back and they’ve grown up and they’re living successful lives. Those are probably the best moments is to see that they’ve been able to overcome and make some good things happen in their life, despite what happened to them.”