Trauma-Informed Training for the Justice System
Expert training for law enforcement, by law enforcement.
Trauma-Informed response for the justice system
By recognizing the impact of trauma and helping victims of crime to be better understood, we increase the rate of success in investigating and prosecuting sexual assault and domestic violence cases. This presentation helps law enforcement professionals to understand the basic scientific concepts concerning the neurobiology of trauma. By understanding the defense circuitry and trauma in ourselves and relating back to how it applies to victims of crime, we can provide pathways to procedural justice.
The presentation starts by comparing our own personal trauma to the victims in our investigations, which helps spark “a-ha moments” for attendees. It is the building block of all subject matter taught. All other training courses will refer back to this presentation at some point.
Trauma-informed victim interview for the justice system
The Trauma-Informed Victim Interview was designed for the justice system. It was implemented and evaluated at the West Valley City (UT) Police Department. The interview process incorporates the principles of the neurobiology of trauma. This fast-paced and interactive presentation builds on the Trauma Response course, teaching how to interact with a traumatized person, and focuses on the how-tos of conducting a trauma-informed victim interview, including video clips from real sexual assault interviews.
Two concepts are taught during this presentation: one is for first responders, gathering information on the scene. The other presents a more formal investigative interview.
Non-Fatal strangulation Investigation
Non-Fatal Strangulation is one of the more heinous scenarios in domestic violence and sexual assault investigation. This module will focus on law enforcement and multi-disciplinary team response, from report writing to navigating the court system.
Examining how we can improve investigation strategies through communication within the team ultimately improves outcomes for the victim. Your team will learn why this crime is so dangerous, from serious medical concerns to psychological issues. Suspect dynamics will be discussed, including an overview of why these offenders are some of the most dangerous human beings alive. Lastly, we’ll study how to document the physical and psychological evidence and discuss determining the predominant aggressor.
Advanced intimate partner violence investigations: Strategies for successful interviewing, investigations & documentation
The purpose of this training module is to provide patrol officers with current and up–to–date information on intimate partner violence that will lead to better identification, interviewing, and documentation of evidence. Strategies will focus on holding offenders accountable and providing victims with enhanced safety and support.
report writing for sexual assault & intimate partner violence
This training module covers basic to intermediate aspects of report writing. This class will have interactive components and discussion. Over the years DV and SA investigations have evolved with our knowledge about these crimes, however across the country our reports have not. Great police reports are the foundation of successful prosecution and should go hand in hand with our evolved investigations.
generational/community trauma and aces (adverse childhood experiences)
An introduction to generational and community trauma is a window into why our victims are presenting the way they are. Gaining an understanding of this type of trauma will give us greater empathy and make us better equipped to communicate with and gain an understanding of our victims’ perspectives.
corroboration of evidence
Sexual assault and domestic violence can be very difficult to investigate. Sometimes thinking outside of the box and looking at investigation from a fresh perspective can work wonders. Examples of investigation techniques will be provided, and your team will have the opportunity to sharpen their skills through a series of exercises. Corroboration — supporting your investigation with evidence — is critical in performing a balanced investigation.
This course can be paired with the course on determining predominant aggressor, to give a fuller picture of investigation strategies.
Determining the predominant aggressor
Domestic violence calls can be particularly challenging for officers. Determining the predominant aggressor in an intimate partner violence incident can be confusing and frustrating. With this course, we aim to refresh your present response and investigation skills, and examine additional tools and communication strategies to best serve victims and set ourselves up for success in responding to these high-pressure calls.
Alcohol-facilitated sexual assault
Often, alcohol is used as a weapon to facilitate sexual assault, and it creates havoc for those who investigate these crimes. Lost forensic evidence, memory issues, locating witnesses, and investigators’ preconceived biases are all hurtles that make these cases a challenge to prove. With this course, we will talk through overcoming the myths surrounding alcohol and sexual assault, providing a roadmap to proving sexual assault is never just “drunk sex.”
An open and real conversation between a former prosecutor and detective. This keynote will include honest and respectful dialogue about certain questions that come up during sexual assault cases in the justice system. For example: when do you shut down an investigation? When do you ask for a second opinion on a declination? Should every known suspect case be taken and screened with the prosecution?
Time will be allotted for the audience to participate in respectful conversation about each subject. This discussion will try to answer the hard questions and push some boundaries. Our hope is that it will benefit victims to find pathways to the most meaningful justice for their own situation.
mindfulness for multidisciplinary teams: best practices gained from an unprecedented year
The COVID-19 pandemic uprooted daily life in ways most of us never imagined, and the effects have been ongoing, creating a consistent undercurrent of stress, uncertainty, and trauma. Coping skills for actively looking after our mental health, regulating our emotions, and maintaining our interpersonal relationships have never been more important. Mindfulness allows us to focus on the present, get out of the worry loop, and center ourselves to move forward.
The best practices for reducing stress and internal conflict throughout 2020 are practically applied to working with multidisciplinary teams. Every multidisciplinary team is its own unique organism, functioning with a specific personality and energy. Our teams work hard to continually improve the justice system for survivors of crime, and that work can deplete our own resilience. Individuals come to the team with their own personalities, professions, and trauma backgrounds.
In coordinating our work as a unit, our meetings can become frustrating and even re-traumatizing. By addressing our personal trauma and secondary trauma directly, we can begin to look at options for more effective and supportive teamwork. Then, as a team, we can work to prevent future dysfunction – benefiting both the team and the survivors we serve. Through mindfulness exercises, we will address valuable tools for multidisciplinary teams and individuals to practice self-care.
- Learn how to identify potential sources of stress and trauma related to large-scale events such as the pandemic, and define how they relate to stress in everyday life and work environments.
- Explore coping skills for managing such events, particularly in the context of multidisciplinary teams.
- Employ mindfulness techniques that can aid in managing stress and trauma, appraise their efficacy, and interpret how these techniques can serve us in a multidisciplinary team environment.
- Construct and evaluate effective ways to prevent future dysfunction and maintain a resilient work environment, where team members and the survivors they serve have their needs met.
cultivating consent Culture: How Law Enforcement Can Transform the Reporting Process for Survivors
Consent education is a seemingly obvious concept that is fundamentally lacking in practice in many areas. A cultural shift is necessary in how we talk about sexual violence and the necessity of consent. One of the most critical places this can happen is within the framework of the justice system.
By acknowledging what police can learn from survivor advocacy work and empowering survivors to lead the reporting process, we foster a culture that believes survivors, understands trauma, and prioritizes consent at every step – through consent education in the context of sexual assault and beyond; through enabling bystanders to become actively engaged and take personal responsibility when they encounter misconduct; and through trauma-informed interview and investigation practices that support survivors’ right to be the decision-maker in pursuing what justice means to them.
Sustainable accountability begins with an understanding of consent. When we encourage, support, and equip police to understand and value consent, we change the culture within the department, and that shift extends to the community as a whole, building an environment that supports survivors; makes crucial resources more accessible; rejects victim-blaming; increases police-community trust; and instills in all of us the power to grow from observers into active upstanders, centering consent in the cultural narrative.
- Explore how consent can impact the cultural narrative around sexual violence, and how consent is a concept we can and should apply beyond the context of sexual violence in daily life.
- Identify how consent education can strengthen law enforcement’s ability to do their job, define what police can gain from using tools and techniques based in advocacy, and demonstrate how focusing on consent can establish more survivor-centric investigations.
- Appraise how we can equip law enforcement with these valuable tools through training and ultimately strengthen departments by applying a consent culture mentality.
- Illustrate how cultivating a culture of consent can build stronger relationships between police and their communities, with crime survivors and bystanders, and how bystanders themselves can become proactive upstanders.
Active Listening: From Investigators to Administration, How Police Can Strengthen Response to Trauma Through Empathetic Engagement
Good listening is far from a passive process. In working with survivors of sexual violence, many of us employ active listen techniques, ensuring that we are fully hearing the survivor’s experience; communicating that we understand and respect their needs; and developing a relationship of trust and support. By extending the concept of active listening to the workplace, police leaders have the opportunity to make a positive and powerful impact on their departments by becoming engaged, empathetic advocates for their teams.
Police officers on the ground interacting with the public and investigating crimes can provide valuable insight into the department’s needs, but often, these needs are not heard by those in a position to enact policy change.
When police leaders practice active listening and engage with their officers from a place of openness and willingness to learn, they gain insight into making interviews and investigations more trauma-informed and survivor-centered; develop innovative practices for policing; prioritize officer well-being and de-stigmatize mental health support; interact with bystanders and concerned citizens using a more empathetic approach; and ultimately strengthen both the department and the community it serves. When we develop active listening skills, we break down communication barriers. The impact of that is transformative.
- Explain the benchmarks of active listening and list why it is such a beneficial practice with survivors of gender-based violence.
- Demonstrate how active listening can be applied to the workplace for law enforcement and why it benefits police, crime survivors, and the larger community to do so.
- Examine the potential changes that can be created within our departments when police leaders break down communication barriers and practice active listening and empathetic engagement, including officer mental health.
- Construct ways we can move forward and implement changes that prioritize active listening, empathy, and a survivor-centered approach to policing.
Betraying the Badge: When Police Are Perpetrators of Sexual Violence
Across the U.S., we are – rightly – tasking police with the duty to intervene when they witness their colleagues’ misuse of force. But there is another police violence epidemic that urgently requires our intervention: officer-involved sexual and domestic violence.
Rape culture is ingrained in police culture. In the male-dominated work environment, traditional attitudes have skewed toward accepting a certain degree of inherent sexism in the ranks as inevitable. On-duty or off-duty misconduct, facilitated by the presence of a badge and service weapon, is an exploitation of authority and power, whether it’s in the workplace, in interaction with the public, or at home, where it’s often an “open secret” and colleagues may not feel it’s their place to intervene. When those responsible for investigating sexual assault and domestic violence become the perpetrators – in an environment where little is done to curb rape culture – what recourse do victim/survivors have?
From sexual harassment and assault within the workplace (officer-on-officer); to domestic violence off-duty; to officers preying on vulnerable populations including women of color, women with low socioeconomic status, sex workers, LGBTQIA+, and survivors in the reporting process, sexual violence comes down to abuse of power, and it is a choice. We need shift the paradigm, making officers who act in accordance with rape culture the outliers, and create a culture where “no one’s going to believe her story over mine” is a relic of policing’s past.
- Learn to recognize behaviors and traits that are indicators of officer-involved sexual violence; build a department culture that prioritizes wellness and supports both the officers who recognize/address these behaviors in colleagues and the officers who seek help for these behaviors.
- Explore how officer-involved sexual violence erodes community trust and damages the integrity of sexual and domestic violence investigation.
- Construct risk reduction measures for victim/survivors and task officers with upholding those measures. Explore examples of model policy and survivor’s bill of rights that departments can utilize to prevent and respond to acts of sexual violence.
- Illustrate the importance of a zero-tolerance sexual violence policy and proactive bystander intervention from within the department that extends beyond use of force and is an official department policy. Develop the capacity to build out these plans and policies.
- Appraise department leadership’s ability to drive change forward, pushing back on inherent sexism and rape culture, and creating an environment in which barriers to reporting within the department are eliminated.
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