10 Trauma Informed Tips for Patrol Officers

Sep 2, 2022 Uncategorized

Written by: Captain Mike Schentrup (RET)

  1. Start with empathetic statement— “I’m sorry this happened to you.”
  2. Start by believing – have a “believe first then investigate mentality”
  3. Communicate to the victim that they are safe.
  4. Never ask WHY – these questions are by their nature judgmental and can be asked later.
  5. No need to challenge the account – this can be done after an investigation is completed, if necessary.
  6. Get basic facts, establish elements of crime, need for forensic and medical exam, crime scene, witnesses, suspects?
  7. 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.
  8. Get certified sexual assault program advocate involved right away!
  9. Don’t write anything that can damage the investigation:  “inconsistent,” “withholding information,” “lied about …”
  10. 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.

Michael Schentrup

Captain Mike Schentrup retired in 2021 as a Bureau Commander for the Gainesville (FL) Police Department, where he had worked for almost 25 years. The majority of his career was spent in investigative units, including major case detective, gang and burglary unit sergeant, and ultimately the division commander for detectives. Captain Schentrup taught extensively in various investigative fields and is the owner/lead trainer of Advanced Police Concepts, LLC (AdvancePoliceConcepts.com). In 2020, he established the APC Online Academy, to bring the investigative curriculum to those who are unable to travel. Captain Schentrup is an accomplished instructor in both in-person and virtual formats. He is an adjunct master instructor for law enforcement for the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence and is a member of its statewide policy group. Captain Schentrup was part of End Violence Against Women’s Cadre of Experts from 2019-2023, where he instructed on trauma informed response and assisted with content development. Check out his LinkedIn here.