RENO, Nev. - It's National Crime Victims' Rights Week and every year the Alliance for Victims' rights shines the spotlight on those who advocate for victims all over the region. More than a hundred people gathered for an awards ceremony at the Mills B. Lane Justice Center in downtown Reno Wednesday night.
“The purpose of us meeting here today is really to honor those doing great work on behalf of crime victims,” Alliance for Victims' Rights Chair Kari Ramos said. “The idea behind that is to raise the morale among people who are doing that work and also raise awareness in the community. I think it's really helpful for survivors to know that there are people doing work on their behalf.”
According to the Alliance for Victims' Rights, more than half of crimes go unreported and only about a fifth of victims receive the services they need.
“There's a big fear that maybe people won't believe these victims or they don't understand the criminal justice system,” Ramos said. “So there can be a stopping point where they say maybe I'll just handle it on my own but there are a number of people in our community who are excellent with crime victims.”
Nine awards were presented at the ceremony. A candlelight vigil in front of the courthouse paid tribute to those touched by violence.
“When everybody comes together for a common cause to bring light to the victims in our community and do what they can to help prevent these things from happening it really shows the support we have here,” Washoe County Undersheriff Todd Vinger said.
He says the Sheriff's Office, District Attorney's Office and local police departments are committed to advocating for those affected by violence.
“Law enforcement has come a long way over the years to really understand the impacts on the victim,” Vinger said. “Years ago we used to focus on the crime and the criminal and unfortunately we forgot about the victim. Events like this really bring to light the fact that we need to never forget about the victim.”