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Making sure victims are heard
Commission marks Crime Victims’ Rights Week
camila komarek
Camila Komarek, victim’s advocate with the Barton County Attorney’s Office, speaks on the importance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week during the Barton County Commission Wednesday morning.

No commission meeting next week

Barton County commissioners and other county officials will attend the 2023 Kansas County Commissioners Association Annual Conference next Tuesday through Thursday in Hays. As a result, there will be no commission meeting on Wednesday.  

The next regular meeting of the commission will be at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 3. 

In recognition of the upcoming National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Barton County Commission Wednesday morning adopted a proclamation marking the observance at the request of the County Attorney’s Office.  

The week of April 23–29 has been selected to “reaffirm the county’s commitment to respect and enforce victims’ rights and address their needs during Crime Victims’ Rights Week and throughout the year,” said Camila Komarek, victim’s advocate with the County Attorney’s Office. 

“National Crime Victims Rights week brings us closer to victims of crime,” she said. This year’s theme “Survivor voices – Elevate, Engage, Effect change” they want to reach all victims and “amplify the voices of survivors and create environments where survivors have confidence that they will be heard and believed and supported.”

In 2022, the County Attorney’s office:

• Prosecuted 459 criminal cases.

• Prosecuted 1,100 traffic  cases.

• Handled 75 juvenile offender cases.

• Worked with 275 new victims.

Komarek said she made 2,842 contacts with crime victims last year. These contacts included notification and hearings, follow up information to cases, criminal justice support and advocacy, and assistance in filing compensation.

“Compensation is a collaborative effort to have a voice, and receive the necessary services to recover from the trauma of becoming victim,” she said. “The County Attorney’s Office, along with community agencies, provide support and help guide the victim throughout the criminal justice process, whether it is immediately following the crime, during the active criminal process or even after prosecution has taken place.”

The proclamation

“The term ‘victim’ is more than just a label and has legal standing and protections that go along with it,” the proclamation reads. “Crime victims’ rights acts passed in Kansas and at the federal level guarantee victims the right to meaningfully participate in the criminal justice process. Victim service providers, advocates, law enforcement officers, attorneys, and other allied professionals help survivors find their justice by enforcing these rights.” 

These provides must also assure the right for victims to provide an impact statement ensures that their’ voices are considered in court during the sentencing and, when applicable, restitution processes. “Including and elevating the voices of survivors makes certain they are heard and seen and creates a path to forging and sustaining community trust,” Komarek said. 

“Engaging survivors creates responses and services that are credible, meaningful, and centered on individual needs,” she said. These can serve as a catalyst for implementing innovative programs or improving existing ones, and change policies or practices that prevent survivors from accessing services or pursuing justice.

“National Crime Victims’ Rights Week provides an opportunity to recommit to listening to crime survivors in every space where decisions are made that could impact them,” she said. “The Barton County Attorney’s Office is hereby dedicated to amplifying the voices of survivors and creating an environment where survivors have the confidence that they will be heard, believed, and supported.”

“Barton County reaffirms its commitment to creating a victim service and criminal justice response that assists all victims of crime during Crime Victims’ Rights Week and throughout the year; and expressing sincere gratitude and appreciation for those community members, victim service providers, and criminal justice professionals who are committed to improving the response to all victims of crime so that they may find relevant assistance, support, justice and peace,” the proclamation reads.

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Wednesday morning:

• Adopted a proclamation marking next week as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

The week of April 23-29 has been selected to “reaffirm the county’s commitment to respect and enforce victims’ rights and address their needs, during Crime Victims’ Rights Week and throughout the year,” said Camila Komarek, victim advocate with the Barton County Attorney’s Office.

• Approved three Facade Improvement Grant applications.

• Approved the Kansas Department of Transportation Federal Funds Exchange.

KDOT has offered to exchange the county’s annual federal fund distribution for state funds at an exchange rate of 90%, County Engineer Barry McManaman said. 

The county has the option of using the full share of federal funds in the amount of $190,617.71 on a project designed with all federal requirements and restrictions. If the exchange is accepted, the county would have the freedom to use the money on road and bridge work without following federal requirements, and receive $171,555.94.

• Approved an updated purchase price for two dump truck beds for the Road and Bridge Department.

On April 20, 2022, the commission authorized the purchase of two Bibeau beds with advanced hydraulic packages to update two 1996 Peterbilt dump trucks from FleetPride, Wichita, for a total cost of $102,511.06. With delivery imminent, the price has increased to a total cost of $115,755.68, said County Works Director Darren Williams. 

This includes painting the beds to match the existing fleet, he said. The changes will allow the county to get between eight and 10 additional years out of the trucks.