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Baltimore Police program aims to ease pain of murdered victim's families

Posted at 5:17 PM, Sep 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-26 17:17:48-04

In Station North Tuesday morning, Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence unveiled a photo essay and art campaign to depict personal stories of Baltimore victims.

It included faces, pictures and stories of the thousands lost, even those from 20 years ago like the niece of Phyllis Scott, who at the podium this morning, felt the pain as acutely as she did in 1997.

"It’s an ongoing story. We are like army vets,” Scott said, “Me and the moms. This never goes away."

The pain on her face has been echoed 260 times this year alone already.

This group is growing at a record breaking clip and while this 'Behind the Statistics' campaign is meant to document that anguish, there is a new program in the Baltimore Police Department aimed at easing the pain.

"No one asks to be a part of this group but what we do is reach out to them and let them know they are not alone," said Victim/Witness Advocate Falema Graham.

Ms. G, as Graham is also known, along with her partner James Dixon as Victim Witness Advocates in the Baltimore Police Department's Homicide Section

The new civilian title, funded by a recent grant from the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, was created late last year to reach out to the families of city victims the day after a murder for counseling, to offer support services or to just talk.

A Baltimore survivor herself, Ms. G knows the value of the work.

"Two of my brothers were murdered, my brother and my stepbrother. And I watched my mom and my stepmom kind of deteriorate a little because there was no support afterwards.”

Dixon has been doing this since November and is acutely aware of this year's particularly violent pace.

"The phone never stops ringing. Someone always needs something, but we are just glad that we can help," he said.

Every day, sometimes several times a day, the two walk into the carnage left behind by a killing and try to offer that other shoulder for a family.

Whether that be at the funeral, a trial or directing families to resources in the city, the two Homicide Victim Witness Advocates aim to ease an all too common pain.

"You never really get over it, but you learn to live with it and knowing that I am one of the people that is helping this family to move on from such a tragic loss gives me a sense of pride but also kind of like, it was what I was meant to do," Dixon said.

Dixon and Graham make use of services like Roberta's House and groups like Mothers Against Murdered Sons and Daughters.

The Baltimore Police Department says it would like to expand this program and are hopeful they will extend it beyond the grant funding from the state.