Campus Safety Conferences Deliver Intensive Training on Trauma-Informed Policing
A survivor and campus police chief explain the effects of trauma on victims and strategies to effectively investigate incidents.
Campus police officers who don’t recognize the signs that someone is a victim of trauma could inadvertently be re-traumatizing them and discouraging them from reporting their assaults to law enforcement.
That’s according to Courage Starts with You CEO and Founder Sherrie Allsup and Atlanta Metropolitan State College Police Chief Wiley Gammon, who presented “Trauma-Informed Campus Policing” at Campus Safety Conference (CSC) East, held in Bethesda, Maryland on June 20.
Allsup kicked off the four-hour intensive CSC East training, describing her experience as a survivor of incest, child abuse, and domestic violence. She explained how her experience affected her life as a child and as an adult, resulting in her developing complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and attempting suicide. It took Allsup years of therapy to recognize and recover from the abuse.
“Sexual assault is a significant precursor of suicidal behavior among women” she said, explaining that more than one in three female rape survivors contemplate suicide and 13% attempt suicide, according to the CDC.
Gammon then discussed how campus public safety departments can effectively investigate sexual violence and support victims.
The first step is to reassure the victim and empower them with a consistent and supportive message, such as “I’m sorry this happened to you,” “I commend you for reporting,” and letting them know their safety and welfare are important.
According to Gammon, it’s also important to give the victim some control over the process, such as allowing them to choose where they want to sit for the interview and not interrupting them when they talk about the details of their assault. Additionally, limit the number of times the victim is required tell their story, so as not to traumatize them.
Gammon also described how to effectively obtain suspect information, evidence, and potential witness information, all while demonstrating empathy and active listening, as well as many other steps campus public safety departments can take.
Allsup and Gammon will be presenting “Trauma-Informed Campus Policing” again at CSC West on August 2. To register, visit CampusSafetyConference.com.