HANCOCK COUNTY — Advocating for crime victims will be in the spotlight next week during a special observance to focus attention on victims’ rights.
National Crime Victims Rights Week is Monday through Saturday, and local law enforcement agencies are helping spearhead activities to raise awareness. The weeklong campaign, held each year in April, is designed and supported by the federal Office for Victims of Crime.
Local residents are encouraged to attend any of several events scheduled next week to show support. Others can wear a ribbon to show support for victims of violent crimes. Purple ribbons support domestic violence, while teal ribbons bring awareness to sexual assault victims.
People can also donate change through the Penny Wars event. Buckets for coin donations will be placed at multiple locations around town. When people donate their change, they get to nominate their favorite person to get a whipped-cream pie in the face.
This year’s theme is “Honoring Our Past. Creating Hope for the Future.” It’s designed to celebrate the progress made as advocates look to a future of crime victim services that is even more inclusive, accessible, and trauma-informed according to the Office for Victims of Crime’s website, ovc.ncjrs.gov.
Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton likes acknowledging the importance of advocating for victims.
“It’s important to recognize victims are important and that officials who get into law enforcement do so because they want to serve the public in a professional and compassionate manner,” he said.
People who become crime victims are friends and neighbors — people who need assistance from law enforcement officials through no fault of their own, Eaton said.
The week also is an opportunity to acknowledge the time and effort put forth by professionals who dedicate their time and careers to help those in need.
“We usually have a fair number of people from law enforcement at the events during the week,” Eaton said.
Officials from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department are also aware of how important it is for them to reach out to recognize and help victims of crime.
“It sounds almost cliche, but when new and even older officers say they got into this job to help people, deep down, that’s most people’s motivation,” said Robert Harris, public information officer for the sheriff’s department.
On Monday, county officials will hold a ceremony at 11:30 a.m. on the courthouse square. It will include a proclamation read by Mayor Chuck Fewell, and a food truck will be parked nearby for those who want refreshments. The event will be held inside the Hancock County Courthouse Annex if it rains.
At noon, Tuesday, Fewell, Eaton and other county officials will take part in the Planting of the Pinwheels as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month at the Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road.
From 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, officials are sponsoring Strike Out Domestic Violence Night at Strike Force Lanes, 1539 W. Main Street.
Starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday, officials are having Bingo at the FOP, with proceeds to benefit the Fraternal Order of Police, 400 E. Davis Road.
Saturday, the week wraps up with the Alternatives Annual 5K Donut Dash at 8:30 a.m. Early bird pricing is $25 for adults and $15 for youths. Children under 12 can participate free of charge. The 5K event kicks off at the courthouse.