Eagle County recognizes Crime Victims’ Rights Week
Commissioners’ vote is a show of solidarity to raise awareness and support crime victims
Over a dozen law enforcement representatives and community partners were present at the Eagle County Board of Commissioners meeting this week to support the official designation of April 24-30, 2022, as “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week” in Eagle County.
County commissioners unanimously voted to recognize Crime Victims’ Rights Week at the board meeting, emphasizing how important awareness and education is in serving victims and preventing future events of abuse from taking place.
“These are really less problems of crime at the beginning than they are cultural, social, societal, community problems,” County Commissioner Matt Scherr said. “We are very fortunate in this community that we have law enforcement that works very closely with lots of those community organizations that can try to prevent the situations that might cause these crimes to begin with, and that can provide resources to victims in places where that’s not what law enforcement does. Our role here today is to simply bring awareness to that, so that people who may be suffering those conditions, who may be aware of somebody else who is, knows what resources are available.”
Among the attendees at the meeting were representatives from Eagle County law enforcement, including the sheriff and district attorney, as well as child protective services, court appointed special advocates, and the Bright Future Foundation. Each supporter had a teal ribbon pinned to their shirt, a symbol of solidarity with victims of sexual abuse and assault.
The resolution to recognize Crime Victims’ Rights Week states that it reaffirms the County’s commitment to “respect and enforce victims’ rights and address their needs throughout the year.”
“The Eagle County Board of Commissioners and our law enforcement partners throughout Eagle County are joining forces with victim service programs, other criminal justice officials, and concerned citizens throughout Eagle County and America to raise awareness about victims’ rights and observe National Crime Victims’ Rights Week,” the resolution reads.
District Attorney Heidi McCollum spoke to the importance of this affirmation, particularly in the increasingly pro-defendant environment emerging in the state of Colorado.
“The legislation in Colorado over the past couple of years has put victims on the backburner, while defendant’s rights have been pushed to the forefront,” McCollum said. “We have not forgotten victims. Law enforcement has not forgotten victims. All of our community partners that work with individuals who have been traumatized, who have been brutalized, and who have been sexually assaulted, are still there for all of our victims.”
Crime Victims’ Rights Week is primarily an informational tool to spread awareness of the resources available to victims of crime in Eagle County, with an emphasis on prevention and community-based services.
“We have very often, in many communities, traditionally left that to law enforcement, but when you get to law enforcement, you’ve gone too far,” Scherr said.
Sheri Mintz is the CEO of the Bright Future Foundation, a domestic violence and sexual assault response agency that has been serving the valley for nearly 40 years. She spoke in support of the resolution, and said that her organization is meeting a growing need in the wake of the pandemic.
“COVID has really made our jobs even more difficult than before, and we are so fortunate that we have a generous community and we have compassionate and passionate partners to serve our victims,” Mintz said.
Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek expressed law enforcement’s commitment to supporting all victims and working towards reducing the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence in the county.
“The long-term consequences of any kind of violence, but especially sexual violence, can be absolutely devastating,” van Beek said. “This resolution, and your guys’ support, will help to inform our community that it’s never too late to go out and get help.”
A list of community resources for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse can be found at eaglevalleybh.org/get-help-now/domestic-violence-and-sexual-abuse.