Some of Iowa’s law enforcement officials gathered in the statehouse today with crime victims and their families for a ceremony to mark " Crime Victims’ Rights Week ." Three federal agents who helped crack an arson case in Iowa City and another agent who worked to convict an Osceola man on child pornography charges were honored for their work. Davenport policeman Bruce McKee was also honored for his service to crime victims.
Davenport Police Chief Mike Bladel credits McKee for organizing a community drive four years ago that has been providing toys to kids who’ve been moved out of abusive homes, and make sure those kids get birthday presents. "When he (came) to me and (said) ‘Chief, I have confidence that our community cares about victims of domestic violence’ he wasn’t just kidding," Bladel said. "He proved it."
Laura Palumbo of Cedar Rapids told her own story to the crowd. She was stabbed 10 times in 1995 by the father of her child, as their three-year-old girl sat on her lap. Then, in 2004, Palumbo’s sister died of cocaine intoxication from drugs that her sister’s fiancee gave her. That fiancee is now serving time for that crime. "Her birthday is in a couple of days…My birthday’s in May, so we always celebrated midway through…so this time of year is extremely difficult for me," Palumbo said during a speech at the event.
Palumbo has adopted her sister’s baby and the man who attacked her with a knife served just five years in prison but is behind bars again for another crime. "I’ve gone through many years of questioning, ‘Why? Why me? Why my family?’" Palumbo said, her voice breaking. "It finally hit me the other day that victims are survivors and survivors are heroes and this world needs more heroes and that’s why."
Kirsten Faisal of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence told the crowd every person responds to grief differently. "These events shatter people’s lives in entirely unique ways," Faisal said. "…Every day, victims of crime struggle to regain a sense of wholeness and safety, and every day our communities and systems fail to meet some of or all of their needs."
Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge told the crowd that crime victims have the right to be heard. "Although we often hear about preserving the rights of those who are accused or convicted of crimes, we must also recognize and preserve the rights of crime victims as well," Judge said. Iowa’s two U.S. Attorneys also attended today’s ceremony.