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Lawyers, Police Raise Awareness for Victims of Crime - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Lawyers, Police Raise Awareness for Victims of Crime

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Balloons released in Darden Towe Park honor victims of crime in the area. Balloons released in Darden Towe Park honor victims of crime in the area.

Men and women who work on and off the streets to fight for justice are honoring the very people they strive to protect. 

Lawyers and police personnel from different parts of the state came together in Albemarle County Wednesday afternoon to raise awareness for victims' rights. 

The event at Darden Towe Park was really about putting a human face on crimes that happen in our area every day. It showed that there are a lot of ways to fight crime, but compassion may be the strongest tool. 

Multi-colored balloons that filled the sky served as a reminder for law enforcement that, although they come from different departments and fight crime in different ways, they are united in their passion for victims. 

"We recognize their strength and we recognize their courage, and we honor them," said Tim Heaphy, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia. 

It was a time to honor people like Shirley Atkins, a mother whose son was murdered in Orange County back in 2006 after being shot eight times. 

"It was a terrible, terrible violence. I thought that I wasn't going to survive. I didn't want to survive; the pain was just too much for me to bear," Atkins said. 

Atkins says, although justice came five years later, what helped her family heal is the compassion police officers showed them over the years, always checking in and providing updates on the case. 

"They made me feel like I was somebody and that what I was going through mattered also," Atkins said. 

Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo says hearing Atkins's story helps law enforcement stay mindful that the people they help are more than victims; they are human beings first. 

"You're tracking numbers and folders and you become so ingrained in the mechanics of the works, you forget that in each of those folders are the stories of people's lives," Longo said. 

The balloons served as a symbolic message that together, a community finds a way to rise above. Each color of the balloons represented a certain crime, such as domestic abuse or fraud.

Organizers hope Wednesday's event will give unidentified victims the strength to come forward.

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