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Nebraska victims of crime to be notified through new state run system

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 3:55 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - For victims of violent crimes, part of staying safe is keeping tabs on offenders, and now Nebraskans will need to do that using a different service.

Nebraska’s Crime Commission created it’s own site, Nebraska Victims of Crime Notification Portal, to replace VINELink, a nationwide service used for decades before.

VINELink was a service used constantly by victim advocates in the state, especially those that work cases of domestic and sexual assault.

“For victims of domestic violence, leaving doesn’t stop the violence,” Amy Evans, director of the Friendship Home said. “VINE allowed victims to be notified so they could plan for safety.”

Evans said when a victim would get that notification that their batterer was set for release, the Friendship Home jumps into action.

“They need to know what they can expect so they can make plans,” Evans said. “Whether that’s seeking shelter at the Friendship Home, we talk them through changing locks, having a signal that they’re in danger.”

It all revolves around that notification, though, which will now come through NEVCAP via text or email.

The Nebraska Crime Commission said the transition should be seamless as they’ve already added anyone who had signed up to be notified through VINE, so victims won’t need to register again.

They said in 2020, more than 25,000 people were signed up to use VINE and nearly 20,000 notifications had been sent out. They expect the same level of users through NEVCAP, though using this new system eliminates nearly all costs associated with notifications.

Another group impacted by the change is the Lincoln Police Department. For years, the link to VINELink was printed on the back of officer’s businesses cards.

The LPD victim assistance unit manager said they’re in the process of re-printing cards because this service isn’t just guaranteed to victims by law, but is a valuable safety tool.

“Being notified is that last layer of safety,” Beth McQueen LPD’s Victim Assistance Unit manager said.

McQueen said she’s only briefly used NEVCAP so far, but says overall, the system is very similar to VINELink.

First, you sign up on the website by typing in the inmate’s name and selecting if you want to be emailed or texted as a notification, and you can also look up the inmate’s status right there on the website. NEVCAP is also available in English and Spanish, like VINELink.

The differences are minimal. The biggest is that you can only look up inmates in Nebraska and the notifications can only be done over email or text, not a phone call.

McQueen said overall, she believes this is a positive change.

“The crime commission has worked to make sure it has cost savings and provides what victims need,” McQueen said. “Also, having it run locally it allows us to have good input as needs change.”

To sign up for a new notification visit NEVCAP.Nebraska.gov. The site also lists resources for victims, the crime commission said that is another benefit of using it’s own system.

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