Prosecutor’s office hosts vigil for Crime Victims’ Rights Week

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz delivers remarks honoring the memories of those who lost their lives to crime in Cass County. He was surrouned by an assembly of court officials, law enforcement officers and family members of these victims during the prosecutor’s office annual flagpole ceremony Wednesday, offered as part of the office’s recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week this week. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz delivers remarks honoring the memories of those who lost their lives to crime in Cass County. He was surrouned by an assembly of court officials, law enforcement officers and family members of these victims during the prosecutor’s office annual flagpole ceremony Wednesday, offered as part of the office’s recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week this week. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

In spite of the tragedies recognized in his remarks, Prosecutor Victor Fitz told the men and women gathered outside of the Cass County Law and Courts Building Wednesday it was “a good, good day.”

Instead of focusing on the exhaustive investigations and methodical procedures he and his team of prosecutors follow in the courtroom to secure justice for the people who have lost their lives to criminal acts, Fitz shared snippets of the positive memories of these victims and the lives they touched during their time on Earth.

“We remember a promising young man in his 20s from Dowagiac who was his father’s joy and the apple of his mother’s eye,” Fitz said. “We remember a man with eight children, including three sets of twins, and a smile for everyone he ever knew.”

Dozens of people joined Fitz in honoring the names of 93 victims of crime during the annual flagpole ceremony, hosted by the prosecutor’s office in recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which takes place this week. Several court officials, elected leaders, law enforcement officers and family members of local crime victims participated the ceremony, placing roses in front of a stone monument to honor the county’s fallen.

The theme of this year’s crime victims’ week is “Serving victims, building trust, restoring hope,” which the prosecutor highlighted in his remarks.

“Trust that the system will bring justice, and hope and confidence in the memories of those we have lost,” Fitz said.

Fitz opened his remarks by pointing out some “sobering” numbers about the violence that takes place throughout the state: the fact that the state has a 40 percent murder clearance rate, 24 points lower than the national average, and is ranked 49th out of all 50 states when it comes to clearing murder cases.

While urging state leaders to take action on these numbers, Fitz returned his focus to honoring the 93 names that were to be eulogized through the ceremony.

“We are not here today because of numbers,” Fitz said. “We are here because of the names behind the numbers. Behind each number is a name.”

Following the ceremony in front of the courthouse, attendees were invited to see the inside for refreshments and given a tour of the recently renovated victim waiting room, used to give witnesses a place to calm themselves before testifying in court.

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