Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Forum for homicide victims offers services, builds trust

Last night, we brought together more than 200 family members and loved ones of this year’s 89 homicide victims in a first-ever forum. We sent all of them personal invitations, and the AdHoc Group Against Crime also contacted family members of homicide victims from previous years.

The goal was to reach out to those surviving family members and let them know they’re not alone in their struggle. We also wanted to provide them with information about all the victim advocacy services available, both public and private. Additionally, all the homicide detectives who were not on call came to the forum.

A video memorial dedicated to this year’s homicide victims began the evening. Attendees also heard from Misty Kurwin, whose son Christopher Bartholomew was murdered in 2007, about her grief and how she handled it. Mayor Sly James and I also spoke, as did representatives of multiple victim advocacy services, including our own Community Support Division, Parents of Murdered Children, the Mattie Rhodes Center and Concord Hope House.

Afterward, the audience broke up to meet one-on-one with the victim advocates and detectives. Detectives provided updates to their loved ones’ cases. The detectives also asked them if they had heard anything more that could help the investigations and lead to justice for the families. Detectives made lots of contacts, and have many follow-up phone calls and visits to make in the coming days.

Homicides are not something our department takes lightly, and we will do everything in our power to prevent and solve them. Reaching out to those most impacted by these tragedies was a very necessary step for us. I’m so glad so many responded. The turn-out was more than we could have hoped for, and it demonstrates to me that the community is eager to work with us to reduce violent crime. This will not be the last such forum, and it’s just one of many steps we’re taking to strengthen the police-community partnership.

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