As part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the State Attorney’s Office held a memorial Wednesday to honor crime victims and their survivors.
Chaplain John Mitten reminded those in attendance they are not responsible for crimes against their loved ones.
“It’s not your choice, but the choice of evil men doing evil things,” the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office chaplain said.
Sheriff Al Nienhuis told attendees that “stoic” law enforcement officers are often “so focused on catching the bad guys it might appear they don’t care about the victims.”
“That’s furthest from the truth,” Nienhuis continued.
State Attorney’s Office staff and other members of the community took turns reading the names of local crime victims, and survivors stood and pinned a ribbon with their loved ones’ name on a memorial wreath.
With a wreath full of names, survivors were invited to speak, if compelled.
Carole Birkeland, whose son, Steve, was hit and killed by a drunk driver in 1992, shared her story of trying to get the man who took her son’s life off of the street and away from the wheel. He served six years of a 15-year sentence, and kept drinking and driving. Birkeland discovered that the man’s license was revoked in 1992, but the information was never passed on, and the man kept his license.
“How many others?” Birkeland wondered.
Representatives from local agencies, including the Child Advocacy Center, Dawn Center and Brooksville Police Department, also attended.