Tuesday, April 12, 2016

IN THE NEWS: MOURNING IN INLAND EMPIRE WITH VICTIMS' RIGHTS WEEK VIGILS

San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos, right, presents Rose Madsen, director of Families and Friends of Murder Victims, Inc., with an award for her service during a special memorial on Monday, April 11, 2016 at the San Bernardino County Government Center in San Bernardino, Ca. (Micah Escamilla/The Sun)

By Ryan Hagen, San Bernardino Sun

SAN BERNARDINO » Twelve long years after her daughter’s murder, Rose Madsen stood tall. But her voice still quaked.

Life never returns to normal after a loved one is taken from you, Madsen said Monday, as she accepted the Award for Exemplary Service to Victims of Crime on behalf of the organization she created, Families and Friends of Murder Victims.

“Life may feel empty and hollow,” said Madsen, whose daughter, Jennifer LeeAnne Balber, was killed in Rialto in November 1994. “Life doesn’t mean what it used to mean. ... But in time, life can be good again.”

Recognizing the unending pain caused by crime while doing what they can to make life good again — that was the mission honored in a solemn memorial Monday for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

It’s a mission the memorial’s host, San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos, said his office has in common w ith law enforcement and the dozen other public servants who attended the ceremony inside the San Bernardino County Government Center.

“We must never forget our community members and the victims whom we serve,” Ramos said. “What Rose doesn’t know is she inspires me, because if she can get up and fight, (we can do the same).”

Photos of homicide victims surrounded the entrance to the Government Center, in the third year of a tradition that ties into nationwide recognitions from April 10 to April 16.

Today, there will be a Crime Victims’ Rights Week candlelight vigil at the San Bernardino Police Department, 710 N. D St., from 7-8:30 p.m.

In Riverside County, District Attorney Mike Hestrin will host three Victims’ Rights Week candlelight vigils this week: today at Palm Desert Civil Center Park, 43900 San Pablo Ave., Palm Desert; Wednesday at Harveston Lake Park, 40135 Village Road Drive, Temecula; and Thursday at Riverside County Historic Courthouse, 4050 Main St., Riverside. Each will begin at 7 p.m. and will remember the victims of violent crime by reading their name and lighting a candle for them.

In San Bernardino, bag pipes and a moment of silence honored victims on Monday. First responders were recognized for two events in particular: Bryce Hanes, a San Bernardino police officer who was fatally hit by a drunk in November, and the Dec. 2 terrorist attack. “It really hit home Dec. 2 ... and I was so proud of the partners we have,” Ramos said.

Other partners had booths at the event to make victims aware of the help they offer, and the Redlands East Valley High School choir performed Svyati Boze.

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