Law enforcement was well represented at the Orange County Crime Victims Monument Dedication Ceremony.
Chiefs and deputy chiefs from multiple agencies, violent crime victims and survivors, victims’ advocates and public officials gathered to commemorate the monument, designed as a symbol of remembrance to lives taken and for loved ones, whose lives are forever impacted.
Religious leaders of various faiths were also present for the ceremony, held Dec. 6, 2021, in the courtyard between the District Attorney’s Office and Orange County Sheriff’s Department headquarters.
“I asked the religious leaders to bless this because it needs God’s touch,” said District Attorney Todd Spitzer, who presided over the ceremony.
A long row of poster-size images of Orange County murder victims were affixed to the windows of the District Attorney’s Office for the event.
The 25,000-pound boulder is situated at the north end of the courtyard, inscribed with a dove and a phrase honoring victims and survivors.
“I know that the burden of being a victim is heavier than the weight of this boulder,” Spitzer said. “I’m really glad it’s here… It is a really important symbol to see this every single day when we walk into work. This symbol is not just a symbol of those who have passed but is also a magnificent symbol to those that have survived.”
The monument will help to bring peace and comfort to victims and survivors, Tustin Police Department Deputy Chief Robert Wright said.
“The most important thing we do is protect victims,” Wright said. “(Knowing) they have someone fighting for them is what’s most important. That is why we do the job … for them.”
Patricia Wenskunas, founder of the victims’ advocacy nonprofit Crime Survivors, said family members of murder victims and victims of violent crimes will never have complete closure, but having this monument to visit during challenging times can provide healing.
“Survivors of rape and sexual assault and domestic violence and human trafficking and elder abuse and attempted murder … All victims of violent crime will have this monument to come to,” said Wenskunas, who was herself a victim of a violent attack in her home in 2002. “They have a beautiful monument and place to come back to during the triggers, of which they are always going to have triggers.”
Also in attendance was Westminster Police Department Deputy Chief Cameron Knauerhaze, a former Crime Survivors board member and current member of the nonprofit’s council.
The monument is a symbol of law enforcement’s role to support crime victims and survivors, Knauerhaze said.
“And this is such an appropriate place to have it,” he said. “Westminster, I know, is absolutely committed to do everything we can to ensure crime victims get justice and the support they need and the families get the support they need.”
The $31,000 monument was funded by donations, mostly from victims’ families, said Kimberly Edds, spokesperson for the district attorney.
The inscription on the monument reads: “In honor of those we have lost and those who have survived. Their faces will never be forgotten, their voices will never be silenced, and the fight for justice will carry on for eternity.”