HARKER HEIGHTS — People whose job it is to help crime victims solemnly placed each of the colorful ribbons that now surround the peace officer’s memorial statue at the Harker Heights Police Department headquarters. The ribbons will remain in place all week as part of Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Around 50 people, including victims, victims’ advocates, law enforcement officials, district and county attorney’s office personnel, and representatives from nonprofit groups all gathered on Wednesday under a cloudless sky to remember victims they have helped.
It was the first year for the Ribbons to Remember ceremony, said Misty Biddick, executive director of Aware Central Texas. She said last year folks gathered at the Bell County Justice Center to plant flowers as part of Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
“We’ve come this far but there’s still a lot of work to do,” Biddick told the Herald.
Through the years she has seen it all, from working in a prosecutor’s office to helping adults on probation, but what has been rewarding is seeing victims turn their lives around.
“Being able to take trauma and turn it into something good is because of the support that enabled them to be successful,” she said.
Biddick said a patchwork of agencies — public, private and nonprofit — help victims.
“Law enforcement makes the first contact with victims, and then other agencies get involved, such as the Children’s Advocacy Center,” she said. “The sooner we can get services such as counseling to victims, the sooner they can start the restorative process.”
In addition to possibly suffering physical and emotional trauma, crime victims also often need help monetarily. “If the door gets kicked in and the windows are shattered, they need to find money for a new door and a new lock,” Biddick said.
Harker Heights Police Chief Phil Gadd reflected on the lasting impact of crime on the victim, their families and friends, but said help is available.
“Volunteers, victims’ advocates and professionals stand by victims the entire way,” he told the gathering. A partnership with “nonprofit organizations such as Aware, Lone Star Legal Aid, Families in Crisis and Teach Them to Love Ministries leads to a better future for all crime victims. We support the rights of victims to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect.”
Hosting the Ribbons to Remember ceremony were Aware Central Texas, the Bell County Crime Victims Coalition, the Central Texas Family Violence Task Force and the Harker Heights Police Department.