The Laramie Police Department has volunteered to hear feedback and possible areas for improvement on its response and investigations into domestic, dating and sexual violence.
Selected in January, LPD is one of six law enforcement programs in the nation to be in the grant-funded initiative, called Enhancing Community Trust: Proactive Approaches to Domestic and Sexual Violence. The six pilot programs will review practices internally and with input from the community, looking for insights and feedback to help improve investigations. Then, the project results will be sent to the project facilitators, the International Association of Chief of Police, who will provide it as a tool for police departments to use nationwide.
During a listening session Monday night, advocates, law enforcement and community members discussed potential areas of improvement, like stigmas around reporting and community knowledge about available resources, as well as what they felt was going right, like Albany County’s Sexual Assault Response Team.
LPD Chief Dale Stalder said LPD has been seeing increased cases of sexual assault and domestic violence, although it may be a case in increased numbers of victims willing to report rather than increased instances.
“Strangulation cases have skyrocketed at the local levels,” Stalder said. “These are real-life problems, and these are the things we deal with the most. We handle somewhere on average of 600 domestic violence cases in the course of a year.”
The moderators for the discussion and project include Audrey Eisemann, ICP project coordinator; Jennifer Landhuis, director of the Stalking Prevention, Awareness and Resource Center; and Tom Tremblay, consultant with Tom Tremblay Consulting and Training. The trio facilitated a dialogue between meeting attendees, facilitating dialogue around ways to build up trust between law enforcement and the community, understanding available resources and the relationship between law enforcement, survivors and advocates.
Community partners on the project include the Albany County SAFE Project, the University of Wyoming’s STOP Violence Program, UW’s NO MORE campaign, the Laramie Town and Gown Association, Albany County Sheriff’s Office and the UW Police Department, among others.
During the listening session, many of the local business owners expressed their desire to offer resources, support and outreach to their employees but weren’t sure how to best approach the sensitive subject matter. Others mentioned not even knowing about SART and wondering how information about the resource could be more accessible to members of the community.
SART is a group consisting of sexual assault nurse examiners, medical and mental health care providers, representatives from educational institutions and service providers from the community, according to its website. Its goal is to advocate and support each survivor as they navigate the process of reporting, possible litigation and other needs.
Overall, advocates praised the SART program, especially its focus on survivor support and the good partnership advocates have with law enforcement.
Stalder said the moderators of the listening session will compile the community’s feedback from Monday’s meeting to give suggestions to LPD this week.
Additionally, LPD and prosecutors will be receiving training on stalking prevention and enforcement from Landhuis this week.