The families and friends of victims of crime or sudden death give those working in law enforcement the strength to continue doing their jobs, Dave Duchak, acting Miami County sheriff, said Dec. 1 during the annual Candlelight Service of Remembrance and Hope.

The holiday season service is held in memory of those in the county who have passed as a result of a crime or a sudden death.

Law enforcement officers, prosecutors and others including the county victim witness program advocates joined the families and friends at the service. The advocates coordinate the event held at Troy’s First Lutheran Church.

“With all the national negativity against law enforcement the last several years, there are times we all have questioned why should we even bother doing this job. But we do,” Duchak said. “We get up each day and go back out and fight against the bad and evil in this world.”

Although when something bad happens, the tendency is to focus on the event and the suspect, Duchak said he read where someone suggested turning the focus on the good people who step forward to help. “Focusing on the helpers, as I would like to call them, gives us all hope,” he said.

What keeps law enforcement officers going are the families and friends.

“Each of you becomes part of our extended family … There is no better or rewarding feeling a law enforcement officer can have than solving a violent crime and bringing justice to those who deserve it,” Duchak said.

He also thanked the victim witness advocates for what they do for victims as well as law enforcement officers. Program staff includes director Carmen Barhorst, therapist Angie Gehret and advocates Cheryl Iddings, Lauren Kirk and Heather Herman.

County Prosecutor Tony Kendell said the work of investigators and prosecutors is more than a job. “It is a pursuit of justice,” he said. “During that pursuit of justice we get to know you, your family, your loved ones … and get to know the loved ones you have lost, through your eyes.”

The Ohio Revised Code dictates what will be justice, he said. “Regardless of what happens in the courtroom, the justice that is dispensed is going to be hatefully lacking in comparison to the losses you have suffered.”

Those in the system continue to labor on despite many injustices, Kendell said. “I believe that …someday … the judgment will be absolute and perfect in all respects,” he said. “In the meantime, we will continue to gather and to remember those who have been taken from us and continue to pursue the guilty.”

Rarely is there just one victim of a crime, West Milton Police Chief Harry Busse said during his remarks.

In addition to the actual victim of a crime, there are others who are victimized, usually family and friends. They are supported subsequently by first responders, victim advocates and others, Busse said. “We need to not only listen, but hear what you are telling us,” he said of the families and friends. 

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