FCASV is significantly expanding its law enforcement training program on trauma informed sexual assault investigations, rolling out The Excellence Project. Modeled after a highly successful project in Michigan and in collaboration with partner agencies on the Statewide SART Advisory Committee, the project will focus on implementing best practices in trauma informed response to sexual assault in specific law enforcement jurisdictions.
Demonstrating backing of their state attorney’s office and certified rape crisis center, law enforcement agencies will apply through a competitive process to be one of four sites in the state selected for intensive training and technical assistance. Each site will start with a system mapping to assess the community’s current response and inform the specific training and technical assistance to be provided. The project coordinator will interview law enforcement leadership, detectives, patrol officers, dispatchers, prosecutors, SANEs/medical personnel and advocates about each professional’s role from the time a victim first reports a sexual assault through prosecution. The law enforcement agency and system partners will then participate in top to bottom training on best practices in the trauma informed response, tailored to their particular needs. Dispatch will receive approximately 4 hours of training, patrol 8 hours, and detectives 12-16 hours; an additional training will be geared directly to prosecutors. Law enforcement supervisors, advocates and forensic sexual assault examiners are also encouraged to participate. The multidisciplinary training team will consist of professionals from the fields of advocacy, law enforcement and prosecution.
The trainings will include instruction on the neurobiology of trauma and how biological reactions to trauma affect victim behavior during and after an assault. It will also cover how trauma affects memory of the event and ways law enforcement officers can use trauma sensitive verbal and non-verbal communication to build more effective rapport with victims, resulting in better participation and less retraumatization. The training focuses heavily on using the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) to educe more detailed information from victims about the assault as well as advanced instruction on how to document the findings in reports.
FCASV and the project development team will contract with trainers from law enforcement agencies, certified rape crisis programs and prosecutors’ offices. Professionals will be invited to apply to the training faculty and will be selected based on factors including experience in training, expertise in their fields and commitment to trauma informed practices.
In addition to The Excellence Project, FCASV will conduct multiple one day trainings on trauma informed sexual assault investigations around the state in the coming year. The initial trainings hosted this May by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office were very well received.
Stay tuned for more information about law enforcement trainings and the application process for The Excellence Project. Florida is on the cutting edge of this new and better approach to sexual assault investigations, and FCASV is looking forward to partnering with your communities.