SuperTalk Mississippi

Attorney General holds ceremony for law enforcement & crime victims

Attorney General Jim Hood Presents an award to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office. Photo courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc.

Attorney General Jim Hood hosted the annual Crime Victims’ Rights Week awards ceremony for Mississippi crime victims and advocates. The ceremony focused on the ability of law enforcement to provide aid to those in need, and the partnership between agencies during difficult times.

“It gives us an opportunity to recognize those that go above and beyond the call of duty,” Hood said. “It also helps us bring attention to how much of a coordinated effort it takes to assist victims, and it’s a great public/private partnership that we work together on.”

Hood stated that nearly $3 million was distributed to 970 victims of crimes in Mississippi over the past year. The Attorney General stated that this type of ceremony can help spread the word to victims out there that there is help available.

“Many victims are able to learn that there are victim services available. There’s compensation available for those who lost a loved one or if they’ve been injured as the victim of a crime. Those services are there and this shows that people do support them and they’re not left out in the cold,” Hood said.

The first recipient of an award was David Whitehead, a Trace Evidence Section Chief for the State Forensics Laboratory. The crime lab has continued to deal with staffing issues and budget cuts, and Hood says this could put a delay on victims receiving compensation because cases get backed up and funds cannot be issued without a death certificate.

David Whitehead. Photo courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc.

In a short acceptance speech, Whitehead said that while the job that they do over at the crime lab is behind the scenes, he was appreciative because he knows how hard they work to get the job done to assist law enforcement.

The next award was given to Velma Warren on behalf of the Mississippi Coalition of Domestic Violence.  Warren is a domestic violence survivor who has now begun to help other women across the state. Warren said that it is imperative for survivors to have people around them to help through the tough times, just as she did.

Velma Warren. Photo courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc.

“You can’t do this alone. You always have to have a support team that supports you,” Warren said.

The final award given was to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, the Brookhaven District Attorney’s Office, and the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s Bureau of Investigation for their coordinated effort to apprehend Willie Cory Godbolt. The suspect went on a killing spree in May 2017 which left eight people dead, including Lincoln County Deputy William Durr.

Representatives from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office & the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Photo courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc.

Amy Walker, Director of the Attorney General’s Compensation Division, presented the award and thanked all those involved for their bravery, calm demeanor and swift response in the face of this dangerous situation. Walker went on to also thank victim advocates for working with the victims’ families to aid them with their compensation applications as they deal with the loss of loved ones.

Hood says that as the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office dealt with the loss of one of their own, it was vital that other agencies were able to step in to assist with the investigation.

“It’s hard to think clearly when your under that kind of situation with the sorrow for the loss of a friend. It’s wonderful that the sheriffs were able to call them out to help with the investigation. In this case, it worked like a sewing machine. They made it work, built a good case and got the perpetrator.” Hood stated.

A moment of silence was held as the eight names were read of those who were killed. The names include William Durr, Barbra Mitchell, Brenda May, Tocarra May, Ferrel Burrage, Shelia Burrage, Austin Edwards, and Jordan Blackwell.

Watch the full ceremony below:

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