TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Those who help the victims of crimes were honored Wednesday by one of Florida's top officials.
The honorees included men and women from Hillsborough, Wakulla, Duval, and Leon counties
While the Jacksonville community scrambled to find out what happened to 21-month-old Lonzie Barton last July, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Director Tom Hackney was a rock for those looking for answers.
Lonzie’s remains were found months later.
Hackney and five other victims' advocates were recognized by the state attorney general in a ceremony at the Capitol.
“Holding onto the picture is making sure the focus is where it belongs: The focus is on (Lonzie)," Hackney said. "It was on him from the beginning, and in Victims' Rights Week here, the focus is on the victims.”
Dozens of law enforcement and victims' services professionals showed their support for those affected by crime around the state by taking part in National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
“We all remember there was a time when we didn’t have advocates, and it’s unbelievable to me how these families were able to get through these very trying times without advocates,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said.
Bondi said the state has made great strides in getting rid of victim shaming.
“Now victims have the legal right and authority to be in court every step of the way, and that’s a huge advancement for our state and for our country,” Bondi said.
Many in attendance said that victims' rights aren’t just a one-week thing, they’re a 24-7 focus.