Orange County Leaders Dedicate Memorial For Crime Victims

SANTA ANA (CNS) - Moments before doves were to be released as part of a dedication today for a new crime victims memorial at the offices of the Orange County Sheriff's Department and Orange County District Attorney, the county's top prosecutor noted how the morning's fog made it difficult for the birds to fly.

``I was told doves won't fly in the fog,'' Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said before, a short time later, sunlight broke through and the doves could be released as crime victims and their families posed for a photo.

Spitzer referenced the scenario as a metaphor for how law enforcement can be there for the crime victims.

``When you need doves the most they might not be able to be here for you in the worst fog of your life,'' Spitzer said.

That's when crime victims ``can look to law enforcement to clear the fog,'' he said.

Spitzer added that at times crime victims are ``very pleased'' with how law enforcement administers justice, but, ``we sometimes fail you.''

The new memorial, which is a large boulder, is set in the courtyard between the offices for the sheriff and prosecutors. Spitzer said it is appropriately placed because the memorial is between the law on one side and order on the other. The sheriff, he said, enforces the law and prosecutors ``bring order'' to the process.

``I'm really glad it's here because it's a really important symbol to see this every single day,'' Spitzer said.

Sheriff Don Barnes agreed.

``This rock symbolizes (victims') strength and resilience,'' the sheriff said.

Spitzer noted it took a crane to drop the boulder, which weighs tons, into place.

``The weight of this edifice is the burden of a victim,'' he said. ``I know the burden of being a victim is heavier than this boulder.''


Photo: Getty Images

Several local religious leaders offered up prayers for the new memorial.

Diocese of Orange County Bishop Kevin Vann cited St. Paul, saying ``We don't cease praying for you.''

Rabbi Richard Steinberg of Congregation Shir Ha-Ma'alot noted it was the last day of Hanukkah and added, ``This monument serves as light among darkness... Let the light of all these victims of crimes shine brightly.''

Saddleback Church Pastor Jason Williams and Rev. Simon Moon of Irvine Onnuri Church also blessed the monument.

Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Andrew Do reminisced about his time as a former prosecutor and noted his wife, Orange County Superior Court Judge Cheri Pham, was also an ex-prosecutor. He said ``we share the same philosophy as DA Spitzer'' that ``victims are the people we need to help.''

Not only should crime victims be supported after the fact, but with efforts to reduce recidivism to prevent future crimes, Do said.

Do also said his view was also shaped by his time as a refugee from Vietnam.

``I know as a refugee I was a victim like my family man times and we suffered in silence,'' he said.

Patricia Wenskunas, the founder of Crime Survivors Inc., said the memorial ``has been many years coming.''

She praised Spitzer for his efforts to get the memorial done and noted how he got choked up discussing the memorial.

``As I see the emotion in Todd Spitzer that emotion is real and strong for myself as well,'' she said. ``I thank Todd for being a voice for the voiceless.''

Photo: Getty Images

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