Summit County Victim Assistance marked 40 years of providing free and confidential services Tuesday with its annual luncheon honoring officials who have been key players in helping people affected by violent crime.
Akron Police Capt. Sylvia Trundle, president of the program’s board of trustees, told the crowd of 150 people who gathered at the Greek Community Center in Akron that there has always been a collaboration between criminal justice and Victims Assistance. She praised the enthusiasm and great service law enforcement officials provide to help comfort the victim — making the job of Victim Assistance easier.
Copley Police Chief Michael Mier and the Copley Police Department received the Law Enforcement Merit Award for the quick response on Aug. 7 to the violent, 10-minute rampage of a man who fatally shot seven people in the township before Officer Ben Campbell shot and killed the attacker.
Campbell and Sgt. Jack Simone, supervisor of the day shift who oversees the dispatch center, attended the luncheon with the police chief.
“It was nice to recognize our department for all their hard work, the actions of the police officers, firefighters and dispatchers, but I’d like to think the award is also extended for all the agencies who aided us,” Mier said. “The incident could have happened in any community, but something of that magnitude could not have been handled as effectively as it was because we all worked together.”
He said Victim Assistance was there not only for the community at large, but also for dispatchers, fire and police officers.
Former Akron City Prosecutor Doug Powley received an award of appreciation for 28 years of service in the prosecutor’s office.
Terri Heckman, executive director of the Battered Women’s Shelter, described Powley as “a quiet, behind-the-scenes man who took office the same way he left: very quietly, unassuming without a lot of fanfare.” She said he was “someone who always had his priorities right” and noted his community volunteer efforts and his expertise on various boards and projects.
Powley, in turn, encouraged victims’ advocates to keep up their support and thanked them for making his job easier.
Keynote speaker Steve Derene, executive director of the National Association of VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) Assistance Administrators, praised the Rev. Bob Denton for seeing the need for Victims Assistance before it was recognized nationally.
He said victims bill of rights laws didn’t come into play nationally until 1980; Denton started Victim Assistance in Summit County in 1972.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.