'They were cold': bridging the gap between police and families of homicide victims
By Editor - Tue Sep 15, 7:49 am
DeWanda Joseph, 63, is fighting to improve relations between law enforcement and grieving families in Richmond, CaliforniaThe text message Kathi Bliss received from a family member on the night of 18 April 2013 included just one line: “Something bad happened.”A strange feeling rushed over her. “My kids are dead,” she thought.She was right. Bliss’ teenage son and daughter, Airian Holly, 16, and Mercedes Williams, 19, had been shot to death while visiting family in Richmond in the California Bay Area.Bliss, who was raised in Richmond, made her way over to the neighborhood where her two teenagers were hanging out earlier in the day. She was met with a busy crime scene, and a cold response from police personnel on the scene.“The police didn’t mess around at all or tell me things lightly to ease me into this,” Bliss recalled this month. “They simply said, ‘Neither of your children made it.’ I was by myself and obviously broke down, but the feelings that I got from the police as I was standing that they were just very, very cold.”Bliss’ experience is a common one among family members of gun violence victims in the United States. Law enforcement procedures at homicide scenes often mean the work of comforting distraught families falls through the cracks. The disconnect between families and police departments frequently widens as investigations drag on and detectives pick up new cases.
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