KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On a sunny Sunday afternoon, roughly 50 people filed into the community room at Kansas City Police Department’s Patrol East off 27th Street. Many held roses. Some spoke to each other.
Rows of chairs made an aisle down the middle. In every row, a box of Kleenex sat in the seat of one chair.
Sunday began National Crime Victims Rights Week. It is a time for those who have been a victim of a crime or family members of a victim to be recognized for the pain they’ve endured.
That recognition comes in many forms, and depends on what state and city you live in, but recognizing victims could include restitution money, or allowing victims to submit impact statements before a convict is sentenced. It could be in the form of consulting victims before a convict’s parole hearing, or before a plea deal is made.
At KCPD, it was just by displaying a photo of homicide victims, reminding the world that each person was a son or a daughter, and once smiled, lived, and was loved.
“It’s their way to have their voice out there and remember them,” Julie Gulledge explained, herself the sister of homicide victim Brian Gulledge. “Instead of forgetting about them and just focusing on the perpetrator, because that’s what it usually is.”
There were also several speakers, including two family members of victims, along with therapists and police officers.
One of those officers told the crowd solve rate is at 75 percent to 80 percent and said the national average is around 50 percent.
But even with statistics like that, as an officer said, there’s never closure, there’s just one foot in front of another.
“I wish I never had to come here,” Gulledge said, echoing those sentiments, “but I’m glad we are here for the people who do come.”