ST. CLAIR COUNTY -- St. Clair County District Attorney’s victim service officer Carrie Leland was recently accredited as a nationally recognized professional victims advocate, according to a press release.

That accomplishment makes her the only victim service officer employed by the state to receive the prestigious credential.

“I am extremely proud of Carrie and the care and expertise she provides in assisting victims of crime in St. Clair County,” St. Clair County District Attorney Richard J. Minor said in the release. “Carrie has a servant’s heart, and it shows in how she deals with people when they are at the lowest point of their lives. It’s all about serving others, seeing a need among victims and finding a way to meet that need.”

Leland completed the National Advocate Credentialing Program and was awarded the Advanced Advocate Credential by the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA).

The advanced credential is awarded to those who have a minimum of 15,600 hours of professional experience working with victims, 80 hours of advanced level training and met client observation and professional recommendation requirements.

According to NOVA, no other state-employed victim service officer (VSO) has earned a professional credential in victim advocacy.

Leland, a Judson College graduate, has nearly 20 years of professional experience working with crime victims and joined the St. Clair DA’s office as victim service officer in 2013. In that role, she works with victims of crimes ranging from property thefts to families of those murdered as they navigate the justice system.

In 2016, Leland was awarded Birmingham metro area’s civic award, the Vulcan Award, for servant leadership for her work with victims.

Leland said the NOVA credential helps bring more professionalism, education and continuing education to VSOs. Her credential means she can also teach other VSOs, so they can be credentialed.

In addition to her work in the DA’s office, Leland is pursuing a master’s degree in the Department of Government at UAB.