Training to respond

Nearly four years ago, USF opened the Harrell Center for the Study of Domestic Violence to research family violence. Now the center has been provided with a $47,000 training grant to use their research in the Florida community. The Violence Against Women Act gave the money to the Harrell Center so it could prepare a program to effectively train police officers and officials to respond to domestic violence.

Sgt. William Rousseau and Lt. Rod Reder, who are representatives from the National Institute of Crime prevention, teach the program that will begin today in Ft. Myers. The program will continue in seven other cities throughout Florida, such as West Palm Beach, Tallahassee and Miami.

Martha L. Coulter, professor for public health and director for the Harrell Center, said the money is used to teach officials how to improve handling family violence and how they can teach that information to others.

“The intent of the money is to train law enforcement, officials and victim advocates around the state,” Coulter said. “And train them to be trainers.”

Coulter said the Harrell Center has a subcontract with two representatives from the National Institute of Crime Prevention who will be conducting the training programs.

Rousseau and Reder led these training programs for about six years and have trained in Russia, Germany and Switzerland, as well.

This year is the second time USF has partnered with the representatives to provide domestic violence training.

Rousseau said they provided training for communities with USF two years ago and once with Florida State University.

Rousseau said the training style he and Reder use with police officers and officials is different because they interact so it can be applied to situations they encounter later.

“We found it to be effective because we provide high-energy training,” Rousseau said. “We don’t just stand behind the podium.”

The training includes videos of real scenarios, improvised situations and power point presentations that teach the officials how to handle the victims and suspects at the scene.

“We teach them how to properly treat victims with calls,” Rousseau said. “Not just showing the techniques but talking about domestic violence and why victims and suspects behave like they do.”

Jodi Baumgardner, a manager for the training grant, said the training program describes the type of abusers and how an officer needs to react on the scene of a domestic violence case.

“(Such as) the effect on kids, because there are usually kids found as soon as you arrive on a call,” Baumgardner said. “They will be covering strangulation because that is a top form of abuse.”

Baumgardner said most of the money will pay for manuals, computer presentation discs for each person to take home and for travel expenditures to allow people in all of Florida’s regions to attend the free training.

Baumgardner said the training is effective because it teaches them how to handle a domestic violence call as well as others in their department.

“They can send a representative, and that person can come back and train the department and community,” she said.

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