BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4)– During National Crime Victims’ week, those who help victims behind the scenes were honored for their hard work. On Thursday, Adams County District Attorney, Dave Young, along with leaders of the Brighton and Westminster Police Departments honored victim’s advocates, prosecutors and other members of law enforcement faced with difficult cases.

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“It’s such an emotionally draining job, everybody gives so much that it makes you think about everybody that you’ve met over the years,” said Detective Matthew Peterson.

Matthew Peterson (credit: CBS)

Peterson has worked with the Adam’s County Sheriff’s Office for 13 years. Many of his cases involve child victims of crime.

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During Thursday night’s event, Peterson was surprised with an award for his dedication to serving victims of crime. There to present his award was a special guest, which was another surprise.

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Peterson helped solve the 2017 murder of 18-year-old Natalie Bollinger. Her mother, Rose Self, flew to Colorado from Virginia to thank him.

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“There are no words. I’m so grateful for everybody who was involved. This man in my opinion really went above and beyond what everybody else exhibited which was phenomenal,“ announced Self at Thursday night’s event.

Matthew Peterson (credit: CBS)

The room erupted in cheers. Peterson was shocked. He hobbled up to the podium on crutches to give Self a hug. He told CBS4 he injured his Achilles chasing a robber but later admitted his injury happened while jumping on a trampoline with his children.

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Peterson told the packed house at the Riverdale Country Club that he couldn’t have done any of the work alone. Following the event, his first phone call was to his partner.

“I just got off the phone with my partner Jai Rodgers, who worked with me on the case and that really out of the two of us, worked just as hard if not more so it was kind of an emotional moment to talk to him to say, ‘Hey, you know the work we did together meant so much to Rose that she would come all the way out here from Virginia just to see me get this award? ‘We got kind of emotional over that.”

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Peterson contested that there were many others deserving of recognition for their positive impact on victims of crime.

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“I just come to work every day and just try to do the best job that I can, I think, but certainly the people I work with do the same thing we have so many great officers, so many great detectives it’s just kind of overwhelming to be singled out.”

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Even those on four legs were honored Thursday night. Dogs with Denver Pet Partners help victims of crime in ways humans often cannot. The volunteers who raise and train them received and award while the dogs received biscuits and stuffed animals.

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Crime Victim’s Rights Week is a national campaign. In Adams County, advocates have helped nearly 8,000 victims of crime in 2018 alone. It’s an emotionally taxing job with endless work but many at Thursday’s event said they wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Jamie Leary

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