Victim's family angry at rushed police letter
Seattle Times staff reporter
When Kimberly Kime-Parks opened a letter Monday from the Seattle Police Department, a part of her expected a few personal words of condolence on the death of her son, Kris Kime, at a Mardi Gras melee in Pioneer Square last week.
The letter, which had Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske's name on it, wasn't what she expected.
"It seems very much like a form letter," she said.
"And they could have had the courtesy to spell my son's name right. I'm upset. Maybe it's not a big deal to them, but it is to me."
Yesterday, the horrified victims' advocate who sent the letter apologized profusely for the misspelling and explained that it was indeed a form letter, simply meant to extend a sincere offer from the department's Crime Survivors Services program.
"I feel terrible," advocate Ann Brumbach said.
"Maybe I'll write a letter of apology. It sounds like he (Kime) was a beautiful person."
The letter, on Police Department stationery, was dated March 2 and began, "We are sorry to learn of the death of your son Christopher."
It ends with Kerlikowske's name but no signature. The supervisor of the advocacy department, Garry Boulder, signed his name below.
Brumbach said the letter was the same as those that go out to dozens of crime victims and their families every year. Although last Wednesday's earthquake forced the advocacy-program staff out of its office in the Dexter-Horton Building for the week, Brumbach said she still wanted to send the letter to Kime's family members as fast as possible so they knew where to go for help.
But with the office's computer system down, Brumbach had only a hastily written preliminary police report with Kristopher Kime's name on it. And that report spelled the name "Christopher."
"I noticed it right away" when she saw the proper spelling in the newspaper, Brumbach said. But by then the letter was in the mail.
Brumbach, who hopes Kime's family will still give her a call for help, says the program's five advocates assist hundreds of families every year, especially in obtaining special state victims' funds for such things as counseling and burial expenses. And they stay close to families, keeping them informed during police investigations and trials of the accused.
"We try to alleviate some of the trauma as best we can," Brumbach said.
"We don't have a lot of resources, but we have some. And we're there for them."