Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Awarded the Excellence in Sexual Assault Response Project Grant

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The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, working in conjunction with the Palatka Police Department, the Putnam County Health Department and the State Attorney’s Office has been selected as one of four Florida law enforcement recipients of the Excellence in Sexual Assault Response Project (ESARP) offered by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence (FCASV).

Dispatchers, patrol officers, investigators, and prosecutors in Putnam County will participate in extensive training on the science of trauma, the brain and body’s biological response to the trauma of sexual assault, and how it impacts victims’ reactions. Based on this cutting-edge research, responders will learn effective ways to engage with victims that maximize the information and evidence gathered in order to hold offenders accountable for their crimes. Just as important, the new techniques improve victims’ experience with responders and have proven to build their trust in the criminal justice process.

Sheriff Gator DeLoach said “We are pleased to have been chosen to participate in this program. Sexual Assault is a crime which unfortunately can occur in any community and across all socio-economic groups. The Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to protecting every victim and bringing every offender to justice. This training will help provide the latest and most updated investigative tools and techniques to accomplish that mission.” Putnam County is one of four sites, selected through a competitive application process, to participate in the project.

The project winners for the 2017-2018 grant period are:

“We know that sexual violence is one of the most underreported crimes, and that victim confidence in criminal justice systems has a direct impact on the number of reports,” said Grace Frances, Florida Council Against Sexual Violence Director of Certification and Special Projects. “This project model provides trauma informed investigative and prosecutorial techniques and tools that can lead to better victim participation. When victims are supported and offenders held accountable, our communities are safer – a goal that FCASV and our project partners have in common.”

ESARP is a partnership between FCASV and the criminal justice community and is funded by the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. In addition to training, the project offers train-the-trainer events, policy development consultation, and technical assistance to law enforcement organizations and their state attorneys’ offices on responding to sex crimes against victims 11 years old and above.

Trainings are led by professional law enforcement, dispatch, and prosecutor trainers experienced in using the ESARP techniques. After the initial training, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office will then designate in-house instructors who will be certified to teach the trauma informed response curriculum to the remaining staff and new hires, thus ensuring ongoing application of the new practices.

The project was developed with subject matter experts from across Florida and the nation to create an intensive curriculum incorporating the most up-to-date sexual assault investigative and prosecutorial strategies. This will be the second year ESARP has been offered to Florida law enforcement agencies. By the completion of the current 2016-2017 project year, upwards of 700 law enforcement officers, dispatchers, and prosecutors will have received the training. Visit fcasv.org for testimonials from the 2016-2017 site leaders about their experiences with ESARP and the positive impacts the project has already had on their agencies.

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