2022 In Review
As we look back on 2022, this year offered a full circle or pivotal moment for a few priorities for our team, leading to great waves of inspiration as we continue to support the statewide movement and coalition committed to guaranteeing greater, meaningful and enforceable constitutional rights for victims navigating the criminal justice system in Oklahoma.
We started forming our advisory board just as the pandemic began, in April 2020. It was a fantastic learning experience as we hosted our inaugural board retreat in Oklahoma City in January. We had a full working day of speakers and thoughtful, super-engaged board participation. Our seven speakers ranged from the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Council of Law Enforcement Education & Training on improving crime victim interactions with law enforcement and consistency of rights information delivery, to the Oklahoma Secretary of Public Safety on victim advocacy and increasing resources and responsiveness between victim advocates, victims, and survivors, to the Victims Services Director at the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office on victims rights resources and services across multiple jurisdictions, to Maria Rosales-Lambert’s report on her work as the executive director of Oklahoma’s only mobile forensic interviewing service which is certified to conduct investigative interviews of children and people with cognitive or neurological disabilities in a method that is less traumatic for those having experienced victimization.
We were so moved by Maria’s presentation that we had to invite her to join our advisory board. She and Karen Gilbert of Tulsa, a former Tulsa City Councilwoman who is a survivor and now leading the Tulsa Crime Stoppers, said yes to the ask to join and our incredible lineup of members, bringing our year-end total to 10 selfless advocates, statewide, committed to meeting with our team quarterly and offering up invaluable experience, expertise, and guidance on topics assembled from a range of conversations with victims, advocates, law enforcement, elected officials and the general public.
Furthering our work in navigating the jurisdictional nuances and impact on victims from the 2020 McGirt decision, we attended the virtual “Remembering Our Missing Murdered Indigenous People” event in Oklahoma City and participated in the National Native American Crime Victims’ Conference, and regularly leaned on insights from two of our Native advisory board members in an effort to ensure we are well versed to offer support in matters affecting all Oklahomans impacted by crime.
Throughout the year our team also issued Challenge Coins during NCVRW 2022. We were also invited to present at the Associated Bail Bondsmen of Tulsa meeting in February. Our team and advisory board also presented to six newly elected District Attorneys in November. We also participated in discussions with the Oklahoma City Police Department around extradition and notification processes that lacked a method for notifying crime victims, attended a number of remembrance ceremonies, monitored the 2022 state election cycle, and submitted questions to candidate debates on topics pertaining to victims’ rights and their plans for extending equal treatment under the law. It’s been a busy year here in Oklahoma, and we’re already prepping for what 2023 will bring on the heels of this momentum!