GEORGETOWN — Taneya Chandler knows what tragedy can do to someone.
Having gone through her own hardship in 2019 of losing her pregnancy at 8 months, she knows that people can feel lost, scared and alone when devastation hits.
As the new victim’s advocate for the Georgetown Police Department, Chandler wants to use her own experience with loss as well as her passion for community outreach to ensure no victims of a crime in the city ever feel the way she did.
Chandler took the position in January after working as a probate court clerk for the county for about a year, a job which she said changed her life and offered her a way to pick herself back up after her miscarriage.
“It was more than just doing the paperwork for me, I would connect with these people in ways that when I initially saw them come into the probate office, in grief and distraught, I would see them leave differently after working with them for periods of time,” Chandler said. “To know that I was able to show them grace, love and support, that meant so much to them.”
Georgetown Police Captain Nelson Brown said when the department was looking for its new victim’s advocate, Chandler stuck out immediately as the best pick because of her drive and passion for the community and those in need.
“You could tell that she has a genuine passion for helping people, and of course the victim advocate, that's what they're doing is helping victims to navigate the process when they've been involved in an incident,” Brown said. “She just hit it out of the park, and when I took the results in there to the chief, I told him and everybody else on the panel, ‘We got to get this girl quick because someone's going to scoop her up.’”
Growing up in Georgetown, Chandler said her mother always noticed that she had to have the last word in every conversation. This expressive and opinionated nature manifested itself in Chandler wanting to go to law school, but she was quickly discouraged by those around her who told her law school would take a lot of time and effort.
Though she said she wishes she hadn’t taken these comments to heart, Chandler said her argumentative demeanor has helped her express her thoughts in effective ways and stand up for those who need extra support.
Chandler returned to her hometown after graduating from Savannah State University in 2018 because she wanted to honor those who paved the path before her by giving back and continuing the progress in both the city and county. She hopes to do this as victim’s advocate by investing in the youth of the community, inspiring growth among citizens and groups alike, and fostering a safe space for those who have faced trauma and adversity.
“Sometimes there's a lot of background issues that go on at home, and I want to be able to use my position to get to the root of these things and in any way that we can help (the youth),” Chandler said. “At the end of the day, younger children are so easily influenced, and I would hate for them to see the bads and the lows of life .. and take that and think that that's what life is all about.”
Chandler said she hopes to host workshops with young people in the community to get them more familiar and comfortable with the police department, but also to work with the elderly in the city to ensure their needs are met and that they feel supported and cared for. Encouraging transparency and grace among citizens, victims, the department and the community as a whole is her ultimate goal, and she said she loves that she gets to offer those qualities to her home community.
“There's a lot of people within this community that I love, love, love, love, and I want to make it a better place for them,” Chandler said. “I want to take my job seriously, anything that I do I take seriously, but I have always tried to bring positive energy or just a lightness to things, because not everything that's heavy has to feel heavy.”