The Vision of Lou Smit

It’s three o’clock in the morning and we’re looking down on a lifeless corpse. Many things are racing through our minds. Who is he? How was he killed? Who did it? Why? Who’s going to notify the next of kin? So many questions, so few answers.

We start making sketches, recording information on physical description, blood, wounds, clothing. My eyes are drawn to the man’s shoes. I don’t know why, but in almost every case my eyes are drawn to the victim’s shoes. Thoughts flash through my mind: When he put them on the last time, did he even suspect it would be his last? He won’t wear them again. He ‘ll never tie those laces again.

Shoes, shoes, the victim’s shoes, who will stand in the victim’s shoes? I remember something I read long ago: THE DETECTIVE STANDS IN THE VICTIM’S SHOES TO PROTECT “HIS” INTEREST AGAINST THOSE OF ANYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD. I guess- THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT. So many awesome responsibilities are associated with standing in the victim’s shoes.

  • It means: Becoming personally involved in the case and with the victim.
  • It means: Consoling relatives and friends.
  • It means: Caring for the victim’s personal possessions and belongings.
  • It means: Respecting that person’s body and integrity no matter what race, creed, social upbringing and past faults or reputation, always remembering that something has been taken from him which is priceless and irreplaceable- his life.
  • It means: Closing all doors and answering all unanswered questions.
  • It means: Solving the crime and finding the right killers.
  • It means: Putting into the case part of yourself, not just making it a nine-to-five job.
  • It means: Going that extra distance, even if all of this distance is uphill. It’s not “just getting by,” but finding that extra piece of evidence or that extra witness, thus developing that extra “depth” to the case.
  • It means: Making commitments and keeping them.
  • It means: Squeezing as much out of the justice system as you can. Granted, sometimes it’s not exactly what you want. Always strive for “everything” that the courts and the law will allow, standing your ground and fighting, even though the odds are long and the battle is tough. Get used to fighting and drawing your lines, trying not to retreat from what is right.
  • So many awesome responsibilities are associated with standing in the victim’s shoes.
  • It means: Always “placing the CASE FIRST.” Don’t let your personal pride and feelings be placed in front of your real job, this is representing the victim.

Remember, try to think of it as not working for the prosecution or the defense. YOU WORK FOR THE VICTIM.

Anyone can stand in this victim’s shoes, either by working on the case directly or by supporting it verbally. Just remember: All of you can stand in their shoes and bring the case one step closer to a successful conclusion.

When the case is finished: You may experience a great deal of personal satisfaction; You may be thanked by the victim’s family and loved ones; I would also like to think that someday, as we travel through eternity, we will meet the victim, who will say, “WELL DONE, FRIEND, WELL DONE.” … from Injustice by Whitson, pg XV

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