Colleagues say goodbye - Retiring St. Joseph County Victim’s Rights Coordinator Linda Baker talks to District Judge Jeff Middleton (right) and Three Rivers police chief Tom Bringman at her retirement reception Friday. Between Baker and Middleton are new retirement schedules for Peppi the dog (top) and Baker. Commercial-News/Elena MeadowsMerissa Countryman

‘People don’t get better than Linda’

County victim’s rights coordinator retires

CENTREVILLE — When people reach low points in their life that come with being a victim of crime, there is a hand that reaches out to them — Linda Baker, Victim’s Rights Coordinator at the St. Joseph County courthouse.
Her role developed over the years, but her time in it will come to an end this Wednesday as she’s retiring after 31 years of county employment.
“Victim’s rights law was enacted in 1985 when I started” (part-time as a filer in the Prosecutor’s Office), she said Friday, Jan. 27 during a retirement open house held at the St. Joseph County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge. It only covered a few kinds of crimes (felonies), though, and the office manager took care of it.
By 1988, the work became too much and she was asked to take over.
Her responsibility is to make sure victims get all their rights under the law. She notifies them of their rights, and if they have an opinion about the case, shares it with the prosecutor. The court can order restitution if there is a loss because of crime; it is up to her office to give the court a basis for that figure.
She also informs people how to find out when the perpetrator might be out of jail or prison.
“It’s a nice contact point,” she said of her position.
Married to Terry, the Three Rivers resident has four children — Jenny, Debbie, TJ and Beth — and three grandchildren. After her retirement, the couple plans to take some trips, and she will also do some training for new victim advocates.
Peppi, the lab and golden retriever mix that serves as a K9 advocate waiting with and going to court with victims to help them relax, belongs to Baker and will go home with her. She has, however, promised to bring Peppi any time necessary to ease the pressure and tension victims feel when they come in to testify.
Baker’s department head, Prosecutor John McDonough, couldn’t say enough good about her.
“I’ve known Linda my entire life,” he said. “I went to church with her, I’ve known her family through sports. People don’t get better than Linda.”
Please see Saturday’s Commercial-News print or e-edition for the full article.

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