The victims of crime are often overlooked, but the Barton County Commission Monday morning hoped to help correct that oversight. It approved a proclamation in recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week as requested by the County Attorney’s Office.
The week of April 7–13 has been selected to recognize crime victims and those who serve them in the community and across the nation, said Victim Advocate Camila Komarek.
“National Crime Victims’ Rights Week brings us closer to the victims of all crime,” she said. With the theme “Honoring the past, Creating Hope for the Future,” she said they want to reach a goal of reaching out to all those touched by crime, and hold those responsible accountable.
She citing these statistics from the past year: The County Attorney’s Office prosecuted 584 new cases, 1,050 traffic cases, 96 juvenile offender cases and 145 child-in-need-of-care cases totalling 353 new victims. She made roughly 3,000 contacts with victims about their cases.
“It is truly a cooperative effort among agencies in Barton County to see that the victims of crimes receive the help they need,” Komarek said. Her office works closely with the Family Crisis Center and its Dell Hayden Memorial Child Advocacy Center.
In 1982, the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime envisioned a national commitment to a more equitable and supportive response to victims, Komarak said, quoting the proclamation. “This commemorative week celebrates the energy, perseverance and commitment that launched the victims’ rights movement, inspired its progress, and continues to advance the cause of justice for crime victims.”
Crime can leave a lasting impact on any person, regardless of age, national origin, race, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation, immigration, or economic status, she said. Incorporating communities’ existing experts and trusted sources of support into efforts to fully serve survivors will develop a criminal justice system response that is truly accessible and appropriate for all victims of crime.
“With the unwavering support of their communities and victim service providers behind them, survivors will be empowered to face their grief, loss, fear, anger, and hope without fear of judgment, and will feel understood, heard, and respected,” Komarek said. “Serving victims and rebuilding their trust restores hope to victims and survivors, as well as supports thriving communities.”
It takes the entire community, she said. Engaging a broader array of healthcare providers, community leaders, faith organizations, educators and businesses can provide new links between victims and services that improve their safety, healing, and access to justice.
“Honoring the rights of victims, including the rights to be heard and to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect, and working to meet their needs rebuilds their trust in the criminal justice and social service systems, she said.
“National Crime Victims’ Rights Week provides an opportunity to recommit to ensuring that all victims of crime – especially those who are challenging to reach or serve – are offered culturally and linguistically accessible and appropriate services in the aftermath of crime,” Komarek said.
The proclamation reads in part: “Barton County is dedicated to strengthening victims and survivors in the aftermath of crime, building resilience in our communities and our victim responders, and working for a better future for all victims and survivors.
“That Barton County reaffirms its commitment to respect and enforce victims’ rights and address their needs during Crime Victims’ Rights Week and throughout the year; and that the Commission expresses appreciation for those victims and crime survivors who have turned personal tragedy into a motivating force to improve the response to victims of crime and build a more just community.”
U.S. Attorney: Victims of crime deserve justice
WICHITA – Wichita-based U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister will take part in events this month to recognize the rights of crime victims.
“Crime can have a lasting impact on any person,” McAllister said. “Our office supports communities and victim service providers as they work to help victims to face their grief, loss and fear while seeking to find hope and renewal.”
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 7-13, and Take Back the Night events this month focus on victims of crime as well as those who advocate on their behalf, McAllister said.
“Take Back the Night highlights efforts by victim advocates and law enforcement to build a community that is free of the threat of sexual assault and promote an atmosphere of healing for those impacted by it.”
McAllister noted that April 7-13 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The U.S. Department of Justice will host the Office for Victims of Crime’s annual National Crime Victims’ Service Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. on April 12, 2019, to honor outstanding individuals and programs that serve victims of crime.
“Victims of crime deserve justice. This Department works every day to help them recover and to find, prosecute, and convict those who have done them harm,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “During this National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, we pause to remember the millions of Americans who have been victims of crime and we thank public servants who have served them in especially heroic ways. This week the men and women of the Department recommit ourselves once again to ensuring that crime victims continue to have a voice in our legal system, to securing justice for them, and to preventing other Americans from suffering what they have endured.”
Barton County Commission meeting at a glance:
Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:
• Approved a proclamation in recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week as requested by the County Attorney’s Office. The week of April 7–13 has been selected to recognize crime victims and those who serve them in the community and across the nation, said Victim Advocate Camila Komarek.
• Heard a report on the Kansas Wetlands Education Center from Director Curtis Wolf.
He gave the following highlights: The center recorded 20,295 total contacts in 2018, he said; contacts and all participant numbers were less than in 2017; last year saw the installation of 12 new exhibit features, including 14 interactive pieces; and on-site and outreach programs totalled 653.
On deck this year will be the biennial Wings and Wetlands Birding Festival which brings in over 100 bird watchers and birding enthusiasts from across the country.
KWEC, a branch of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, is operated by Fort Hays State University personnel. Opened 10 years ago, the facility overlooks the 19,857 acre Cheyenne Bottom Wildlife Area managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Park and Tourism and the 7,694 acre Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve managed by the Nature Conservancy. • Approved the county’s participation in the Federal Funds Exchange program. The Kansas Department of Transportation is offering to exchange the annual federal funds distribution for State funds at an exchange rate of 90 percent.
The county has the option of using the full share of federal funds in the amount of $248,138.49 on a project that would be designed using all federal requirements and restrictions, or accepting 90 percent of that amount and having the freedom to use the money on road and bridge work at the county’s discretion without following federal requirements, County Engineer Barry McManaman said.
After the action, the amount available to Barton County is $223,324.64.
• Approved the purchase of Office 365 Business and Advanced Threat Protection for the next 10 months from Nex-Tech at a cost not to exceed $27,750. Office 365 enables all users to have access to Office software updates as they are released by Microsoft. In addition, email is automatically saved to the cloud with an almost unlimited amount of space, provides updates at no extra charge and comes with aggressive anti-virus protection, said Information Technology Director John Debes.