Letter to the Editor – from Coleen Widell

Dear Editor,

Help End Abuse for Life (HEAL) just finished our 2014 Heroes with Heart awards gala. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon celebrating the remarkable contributions of these fine members of our community. But I realize there are two other people who deserve special recognition and, while they are not part of the Heroes with Heart program, they are certainly heroes to survivors. One is a police officer. Another is a judge.

police-clip-art-clip_art_illustration_of_a_stick_figure_police_officer_0515-0911-0523-0039_SMU Officer Maury Legg would probably say he was “just doing my job.” Maybe so, but what he did one night was change the life of a woman who was very afraid and very alone. He didn’t have to intervene. He could have turned a blind eye like many others have done. But instead he did the right thing, going above and beyond the call of duty. She will tell you she is thriving and for the first time in many, many years, she feels in control of her life…because of this police officer. Thank you, Officer Legg. You are her hero today.

Many survivors are frustrated when the criminal justice system will not hold abusers accountable for violating protection orders. These abusers violate the orders over and over and over again, seemingly without consequence. It is, and has been, a long standing problem. But recently, Judge Angie Schneider of the 12th Judicial Court in Otero County, sentenced a man to six years in prison for repeatedly violating a protection order (17 counts). In my experience, this kind of sentencing is very rare. I know Judge Schneider personally and can attest to her understanding about the dynamics of domestic violence. Thank you, Your Honor, for your courage to do the right thing. The victim of this crime found justice in your courtroom.
 
 Coleen Widell
Executive Director
HEAL & The Nest

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