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Las Vegas ceremony honors victims of domestic violence

Updated October 8, 2019 - 8:17 pm

Vases overflowed with 35 white roses as dozens sat in silence to commemorate victims during the 24th annual Domestic Violence Memorial Ceremony on Tuesday morning in Las Vegas.

Residents and police officers gathered at the Southern Nevada Family Justice Center to honor those killed in domestic violence homicides between July 1, 2018, and June 30. This past year had the most roses since the 2010 ceremony.

Thirty-four victims — 20 women, 11 men and three children — were represented by a white rose wrapped in purple ribbon. The ribbon was adorned with the victim’s first name, age and date of death. They ranged in age from 2 to 74.

The 35th rose, wrapped in a white ribbon, represented any unknown victims.

A plaque was unveiled with each victim’s information, and it will be displayed on a wall in the center, with the other plaques since 2008.

Elynne Greene, manager of victim services and human trafficking for the Metropolitan Police Department, said that the records are taken from July to June so that the event can be held with updated numbers in October for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“This month, what we want to do is really raise awareness so that 365 days a year, no one forgets,” Greene said.

This year’s ceremony honored more victims than usual, but Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said that the total number of homicides for 2019 is low. As of Tuesday, there had been 66 homicides in the county. At this time last year, he said, there had been 102.

Nevada had the fourth-most domestic violence fatalities in the U.S. in 2017, according to a study by the nonprofit Violence Policy Center. McMahill called the ranking a failure for Las Vegas police.

“Our state always remains in the top 10 for domestic violence deaths,” he said. “We want to be last at something when it comes to domestic violence deaths.”

Though Greene credited McMahill with starting the Family Justice Center, he said he simply opened the door for others to bring their idea to fruition.

McMahill said that the Family Justice Center is a great resource for domestic violence victims and their families but that there is still a lot more work to be done. He said he hopes to build it up to a point where they can confidently offer help to every victim, never needing to turn anyone away for a lack of space or resources.

“It takes every last one of us to create a safe and supportive community for the victims and their families,” he said. “Domestic violence remains one of the leading causes of homicide within our community. We can do better, folks. We have to do better.”

Those suffering from or witnessing domestic violence can contact Metro’s victim advocates at 702-828-2955 or the Family Justice Center at 702-828-7714.

Contact Alexis Egeland at aegeland@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0335. Follow @alexis_egeland on Twitter.

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