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Protecting Utah

SBI Hosts Fourth In Series of Trainings for Sex Crimes Investigators

Monday April 29, 2019
Resource Prosecutor Marlesse Jones presents about trauma informed interviewing

SBI held its fourth in a year-long series of special trainings for sex crimes investigators. This session featured Marlesse Jones, from the Utah Prosecution Council, discussing Trauma Informed Interviewing.

Jones started by sharing common cultural myths about rape and then debunking them with statistics and information. These cultural perceptions about rape add to the challenges that sex crimes investigations face, and part of the prosecutors’ and investigators’ job, Jones said, is to educate judges and juries by countering these myths.

Start By Believing

In the victim centered approach, Jones told the investigators that the first step is to start by believing. They should consider all reports valid until the evidence proves otherwise. “We’re going to start by believing,” Jones said. “But we’re going to investigate. We’re going to employ the highest standards of investigation with other multidisciplinary teams.”

Resource Prosecutor Marlesse Jones teaches at the SBI training for sex crimes investigators.

Trauma Informed Victim Interview Protocol

In 2013, West Valley City Police, along with the Utah Prosecution Council, developed a “Trauma Informed Victim Interview” protocol, or TIVI. The TIVI protocol takes into account the effects of trauma on a victim’s memory and behavior and with that impact in mind, guides investigators in conducting interviews that are more successful and comprehensive than interviews gathered with previous investigative techniques.

Jones reviewed the steps and elements of the TIVI with the investigators attending. She discussed how they can use open ended questions to help them gather information and to practice asking these types of questions based on the information they want to know. For example, if they needed to identify a logo on an armed robber’s jacket, they could ask something like, “Tell me about his jacket.”

Jones said that a key part of the TIVI is the fact that “the victim should focus on healing, while we take care of the investigation.” She shared statistics from West Valley City Police Department showing the success they’ve seen in their sex crimes investigations since they started using the TIVI protocol.

SBI’s Agent Derek Coats spoke briefly at the conclusion of the training and he reiterated that everyone was working toward the same goal: justice for victims. “That sense of justice comes from us,” he said. SBI has additional trainings scheduled throughout the year.

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