DOJ Hosts Sexual Assault Victim Engagement Training with Nationally Renowned Law Enforcement Expert
MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) hosted a two-day training on engaging and working with survivors of sexual assault, entitled, “Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (WiSAKI): Survivor Notification and Engagement.” The training took place in November at Fox Valley Technical College’s Public Safety Training Center in Appleton.
“The criminal justice system cannot hold criminals accountable and keep our communities safe unless victims come forward and share their experiences,” said Attorney General Schimel. “But a victim is only going to come forward if they think they will be believed and treated with respect and dignity. This training taught public safety professionals and victim/witness specialists how to carry out an investigation while offering support and comfort to a victim.”
Presenting at the training were nationally renowned law enforcement expert and retired Police Chief Tom Tremblay, Womack Army Medical Center’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Kelly Taylor, and Victim-Witness Unit Supervisor for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office Marya Simmons.
“Being trauma-informed means that officers and investigators who respond to (sexual assault) cases recognize that before we ask a single investigatory question, we have to demonstrate physical, psychological, and emotional safety for the victim,” Tremblay said at the training. “Victims have to trust that we are a safe place to disclose the very personal and traumatic experience of sexual assault.”
The training was attended by local law enforcement representatives, sexual assault service providers, prosecutors, sexual assault nurse examiners, and victim/witness specialists. Over the course of the training, attendees learned about best practices for victim notification, victim engagement, victim interviewing, and cold sexual assault case reviews. These multidisciplinary representatives also discussed strategies to maintain victim engagement throughout the judicial process and reviewed DOJ’s survivor notification protocol.
WiSAKI is a statewide effort to address the issues surrounding unsubmitted sexual assault kits in the possession of local law enforcement agencies and hospitals in Wisconsin. Initiated by the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Response Team (AG SART) and led by DOJ, WiSAKI is a collaborative effort among law enforcement, victim advocates, sexual assault nurse examiners, prosecutors, health care systems, and the WI State Crime Lab. WiSAKI supports survivors of sexual assault, protects the community, and holds offenders accountable using a trauma-informed, victim-centered approach.
Additional information on WiSAKI, including frequently asked questions, data and results, resources, a step by step summary of the testing process, and other updates, can be found at https://wisaki.doj.wi.gov.
Any survivor who had a sexual assault kit collected and does not know if their kit was tested for the presence of DNA evidence can call 1-800-446-6564 or go to www.ByYourSideWI.org for more information and to connect with support services.