Written by: Captain Mike Schentrup (RET)
- Start with empathetic statement— “I’m sorry this happened to you.”
- Start by believing – have a “believe first then investigate mentality”
- Communicate to the victim that they are safe.
- Never ask WHY – these questions are by their nature judgmental and can be asked later.
- No need to challenge the account – this can be done after an investigation is completed, if necessary.
- Get basic facts, establish elements of crime, need for forensic and medical exam, crime scene, witnesses, suspects?
- Don’t make contact with the suspect until CID has an investigative strategy – detectives may want to compete a controlled phone call with the suspect.
- Get certified sexual assault program advocate involved right away!
- Don’t write anything that can damage the investigation: “inconsistent,” “withholding information,” “lied about …”
- Never accept a complaint withdrawal or a prosecution refused form. It is too early for this.
These are 10 easy steps command staff can use to guide their patrol officers or deputies to a more trauma informed response.