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Law enforcement officers are usually the first to come in contact with a particular crisis in a given setting. As a result, most law enforcement units have established a Crisis Intervention Team in their departments. One of the aims of crisis intervention in law enforcement is to give all officers the necessary resources to handle individuals who are in a behavioral crisis. Examples of these subjects include individuals exhibiting signs of mental illness, those experiencing personal crises as well as individuals living with substance use disorder. Crisis intervention is one of the strategies that law enforcement officers use to respond to sexual assault. The law enforcement agencies employ the different approaches in highflying intervention after reported sexual assaults. The basis of the intervention is to ensure that the victims of sexual assault are protected and get justice. In intervening in such a crisis, law enforcement officers undertake a thorough investigation to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book (Ellis, 2014).
Crisis intervention purposes of minimizing the psychological stress a victim encounters during an immediate crisis. The intervention assistance may include victim advocacy, 24-hour hotlines, medical supplement, as well as referrals to community-based services (Miller, 2006). The law enforcement officers may work with the victims to create personalized safety plans that can assist victims in reclaiming a sense of safety. It is worth noting that law enforcement delivers services to victims through crisis intervention where trained professionals identify, evaluate, and intervene on behalf of a person in crisis. This research paper examines crisis intervention in law enforcement with an emphasis on highflying crisis intervention responses after reported sexual assault.
Crisis Intervention in Law Enforcement
A crisis can be described as a time of psychological imbalance experienced by an individual or a community instigated by an enduring, dangerous, and traumatic event. Typically, a fact that is considered as traumatic usually generates a considerable and overwhelming problem that cannot be resolved by utilizing standard coping strategies. In essence, crises generally leave individuals feeling helpless and without control. Responses to a crisis are exceptional; what institutes a crisis for one person may not be regarded as a crisis for another. Miller (2006) asserts that the objective of crisis intervention is to address the most persistent and immediate problems linked with the crisis within a specified period by taking care of the victim’s emotional, mental, physical, medical as well as personal needs. Law enforcement utilizes crisis intervention to help victims deal with the most immediate needs and allow them to start focusing on the future (Miller, 2006).
Hendricks & Hendricks (2014) maintain that law enforcement victim advocates usually respond to the crisis and arrive at the scene with patrol officers and carry out crisis intervention in the aftermath of an incident. Most of the victim assistance programs are based in police departments (Hendricks & Hendricks, 2014). Police-based victim advocates assist the patrol officers and investigators in responding to the incident and accompany victims through the criminal justice system process. The police advocates respond immediately to crisis along with law enforcement. They have a solid understanding of investigations and are critical in providing the victims with continuous information regarding the progress of a case. Furthermore, the advocates can support officers in informing victims regarding their rights and accessibility of the community-based victim services (Ellis, 2014).
New strategies and tactics are all to usually born from crisis. Law enforcement started seeking alternatives to conventional strategic enforcement approaches. The establishment of Crisis Intervention Teams, particularly in law enforcement, is one of the modern approaches emerging from detainee concession methods. The teams help law enforcement in the sufficient resolve of perilous and crisis incidents. Besides, the crisis intervention teams use specific training approaches to neutralize what could be readily become explosive circumstances typically without deadly force and frequently without the use of force. One of the earliest crisis interventions was established in 1988 after an event in Memphis where psychologically ill individual wielding a blade was shot and slayed by law enforcement officers (Ellis, 2014).
The fundamental objective of the original crisis intervention crew was to neutralize crisis incidents while assuring the security of everybody involved. Studies have started to illustrate a considerable increase in the use of crisis interposition and efficacy in dominions, where crisis intervention crews are used. In most urban settings, there are specialized police departments that are committed to managing crisis and mental health calls. Recent studies have shown the prevalence and utilization of crisis intervention in law enforcement, which has continued to grow. Survey shows that more than 400 crisis intervention teams had already began its operations in the U.S (Hendricks & Hendricks, 2014).
The studies on the effectiveness of crisis intervention in law enforcement have shown positive results. Malcolm et al. (2005) indicated that there were reduced rates of injuries sustained by police officers in instances when the crisis intervention teams were used. Lord et al., (2011) reported that law enforcement officers trained and assigned to crisis intervention teams showed more empathy to mentally ill individuals, decreased use of high-intensity police strategies as well as more patience when managing crisis conditions. Furthermore, crisis intervention teams have been proved to improve traditional law enforcement functions by offering an assortment of response options tailor-made to the needs of mentally ill persons (Lord et al., 2011).
Crisis Intervention After Reported Sexual Assaults
Sexual assault has been one of the significant problems that law enforcement officers have been compelled to deal with. The fundamental focus of crisis intervention in response to sexual assault is to guarantee the health and safety of the victim of the crime. In an incidence of sexual assault, law enforcement agencies are committed to investigating the crime professionally, recognizing and detaining offenders, and helping those affected to receive the needed assistance with criminal justice. In crisis intervention, law enforcement officers can assist the victim of sexual assault in contacting a counselor. Most law enforcement agencies have the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention (SARP) team who are trained to assist victims of sexual assault and other traumatic events (Kinney, Bruns, Bradley, Dantzler & Weist, 2008).
As part of crisis intervention, law enforcement utilizes programs that are intended to ensure that the victims of sexual assault are protected and provided with a wide range of essential care and services. The purpose of these interventions is to increase the possibility that the assault can be successfully prosecuted. In this context, the role of law enforcement is to examine and report the facts of the case (Malcolm et al., 2005). Subsequently, law enforcement is usually responsible for the immediate safety requirements of the victim. They also investigate the crime, interview the victim, arresting the suspect as well as organizing for forensic assessment of the suspect when necessary. Crisis intervention strategies enable law enforcement agencies to offer a timely and all-inclusive response to sexual assault (Malcolm et al., 2005).
Law enforcement officers use various strategies in supporting victims in sexual assaults crisis. These strategies may include the use of non-counseling methods, activities associated with response to trauma, and more complex approaches involving strategies for listening, evaluating, and acting in crisis intervention (Lord et al., 2011). Assessment is a deliberate practice that arises during the crisis intervention process. It entails seeking information from a victim, listening actively, and interpreting what she shares so as to understand her coping mechanisms, emotional state, and other resources.
Law enforcement plays a pivotal in establishing an offender-focused investigation. In this context, the investigation of sexual assault focuses on the offender’s use of force and the victim’s lack of consent. Offender-focused investigations are necessary because most sex offenders are usually repeated offenders and regularly commit verge offenses. Ellis (2014) establishes that law enforcement also instigates the preliminary victim statement to acquire vital information. It is crucial for law enforcement to discuss with the medical personnel before commencing the in-depth victim interview. Usually, the interviews take time, and the law enforcement officer ensures there is sufficient time to complete the interview (Ellis, 2014). They are also encouraged to use all the accessible investigative at their disposal.
A victim-centered approach focuses on the concerns and needs of the victims to ensure that investigations are not affected by rulings an investigator makes regarding a victim. It also proposes to ensure that the victims are treated in a way that takes into consideration the specific traumatic impacts of sexual assault (Roberts, 2005). Perhaps, the apprehension of the victims should be upheld throughout the investigation to avert further trauma. This enables the victim to understand that his or her participation in the investigation process helps the justice system work. Another element of upholding a victim-centered approach entails establishing a relationship and enhancing cooperation with the associates’ outsides the department, such as the victim advocates as well as the community service providers. Perhaps, advocates can offer support to victims of sexual assault and connect them with the necessary resources (Roberts, 2005).
Even though the victims of sexual assault may seek the help of law enforcement, they also usually require medical attention, safety planning, and mental health support to minimize further occurrences of violence and help them through the traumatic experiences. Collaboration among law enforcement agencies warrants constancy in response to victims and reduces the possibility of duplicative, detrimental, or counterproductive services. Law enforcement agencies use the SART as a crisis response team in the event of reported sexual assault. The SARTs offer a steady and established framework that reinforces the criminal justice system and facilitate timely advocacy intervention (Kinney, Bruns, Bradley, Dantzler & Weist, 2008).
The law enforcement officers offer immediate response to an incidence of sexual assault, examine physical safety, and eventually provide evidence for trial. Besides, the police are trained to deescalate crisis situations, evaluate immediate safety, record the incident, and link the victim to the ensuing step in the support process. Forensic examiners and doctors are also called up to address the victim’s immediate medical needs and gather forensic evidence (Kinney, Bruns, Bradley, Dantzler & Weist, 2008).
Law enforcement agencies have been using crisis intervention strategies to address the crime of sexual assault. As a result, the approach have facilitated improvements in the help-seeking experiences of victims. Such developments encompassed more recommendations to services and effective communications between victims and responders. The fundamental objective of law enforcement is to prevent and deter crime proactively. In the highflying crisis of reported sexual assault, law enforcement undertakes various roles. One of these roles is to respond to the grievances of sexual assault (Hendricks & Hendricks, 2014). They are also responsible for assessing sexual assault incidences based on the criminal and practical statutes. Another role is to identify, arrest, and interview the perpetrators. Besides, they collect and preserve evidence as well as prepare investigative reports (Hendricks & Hendricks, 2014).
In cases of reported sexual assault, the role of law enforcement is to ensure the safety of the victim and the public through investigating reports of the crime. The law enforcement intervenes by determining whether the report of sexual assault fulfills the components of a crime as delineated by the laws. This entails piling together an accurate record of the sexual assault by gathering accounts by the victim, suspects, and witnesses (Pieper, 2016). While intervening in such a crisis, law enforcement agencies utilize a victim-centered response to treat each victim with compassion, consideration, and professionalism. A victim-centered law enforcement response to sexual assault acknowledges that victims of sexual abuse are usually the ones who are seen as lacking in reliability (Pieper, 2016).
Effective crisis intervention takes into consideration the ethical principles that help in ensuring that the victims of a crisis are placed in more harm. Ethical principles also help to ensure that the opinions and decisions of the victims are respected in the entire process, and the crisis intervention upholds a rights-based approach (Sommers-Flanagan, 2007). Law enforcement is value-based, and the values focuses on respecting the people’s rights, engaging positively with the community, and respecting the state and constitutional laws. The public reputation of law enforcement agencies is influenced by their day-to-day interaction with the public. It is also determined by the organizational assertions to involve the community and offer quality services. In that case, law enforcement officers should be focused on and understand the needs of crime victims. Furthermore, they should make efforts to address such requirements within the basis of their mission (Sommers-Flanagan, 2007).
Honesty and confidentiality are some of the vital traits that law enforcement is expected to have. The law enforcement officers should ensure the confidentiality of information of the crime victims. Victims fear facing retaliation from perpetrators, and therefore, law enforcement must be mindful of these risks and take caution to maintain confidentiality and protect them. The oath of office for the law enforcement officers constitutes provisions regarding protecting and abiding by the Constitution of the U.S. It also encompasses pledges to behave honestly and honorably. Ethics plays a pivotal role in the line of duty of a law enforcement officer. Police are given a higher degree of trust and authority; as a result, it can inopportunely be much easy for an officer to get into some unethical conduct. Subsequently, these ideas become the foundational ethical guidelines for the law enforcement officers even when dealing with a crisis. Officers are expected to remain honest and obligated to tell the truth. For instance, he or she should not fabricate evidence to get search warrants. A bold officer endeavors to act bravely, whereas a coward one retreats at danger. According to Pramono (2017), Virtue ethics are vital for the success of law enforcement. Alleviating the risk for officer misbehavior necessitates a comprehensive understanding of motivation and human behavior (Pramono, 2017).
In crisis intervention, law enforcement is expected to act impartially in the treatment of victims. Perhaps, it is not always possible to act impartially in a crisis scenario, especially for local and small-town officers. Acting impartially may escalate a crisis because of the inadequacy of the services provided. Barker (2011) argues that law enforcement should abide by the ethics stipulated by the law. Another ethical concern for law enforcement in crisis intervention is profiling (Barker, 2011). This has been one of the most significant aspects of policing. However, due to prevailing stereotypes and incorrect assumptions, crisis intervention has been rife with ethical or racial profiling cases. Besides. Law enforcement officers usually experience ethical issues associated with their off-duty behaviors. Nonetheless, law enforcement ethics compel the officers to abide by higher standards than the citizens.
Another ethical concern is disclosure of the conditions of the strategies used in the crisis intervention. Victims need to understand the purpose of the intervention that law enforcement uses. Perhaps, it is ethically crucial for the participants to understand precisely what they are getting into (Sommers-Flanagan, 2007). Crisis intervention strategies such as the victim-focused strategy have the provisions that enable the victim to understand the purpose of the specified initiative. Also, the disclosure of the victim’s information to other agencies should only be allowed through mutual consent. The ethical guidelines on this basis are primarily those for confidentiality. In that case, the law enforcement agencies take into consideration the several ethical concerns associated with crisis intervention (Sommers-Flanagan, 2007).
In conclusion, law enforcement utilizes crisis intervention strategies to handle highflying crisis situations such as reported sexual assault. The fundamental purpose of crisis intervention is to alleviate the intensity of the crisis among the victims and help them return to their normal functioning and develop new coping skills. Lack of understanding and knowledge on the strategies to handle a crisis can cause another crisis to the victims. The fundamental goal of crisis intervention in law enforcement is to give all officers the necessary resources to handle individuals who are in a behavioral crisis. Based on the topic analyzed, law enforcement employs measures that are intended to ensure that the victims of sexual assault are protected and provided with a wide range of essential care and services. The highlighted strategies and interventions enable law enforcement agencies to establish practical crisis intervention approaches after reported sexual assaults. These techniques have been proven effective in the broader contexts of assuring justice for the victims of sexual assault. Law enforcement interventions must carefully scrutinize their training, strategies, and reward structures to make sure that their agency nurtures a culture of strong ethical values. Ethical conduct considerably influences public trust. Successful law enforcement leaders ensure that the officers understand the appropriate thing to do. Ethics plays a central role in the crisis intervention initiatives for law enforcement agencies.
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- Hendricks, J., & Hendricks, C. (2014). Crisis intervention in criminal justice/social service (5thed., pp. 23-45). Charles C Thomas Publisher.
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- Malcolm, A., Seaton, J., Perera, A., Sheehan, D., & Van Hasselt, V. (2005). Critical Incident Stress Debriefing and Law Enforcement: An Evaluative Review. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 5(3), 261-278. doi: 10.1093/brief-treatment/mhi019
- Miller, L. (2006). Practical police psychology: Stress management and crisis intervention for law enforcement. Charles C Thomas Publisher.
- Pieper, E. (2016). Reporting Sexual Assault: Review of the Literature Regarding the Decision to Report Sexual Assault. The Boller Review, 1(1). doi: 10.18776/tcu/br/1/23
- Pramono, A. (2017). Professional ethics advocates as controlling efforts in performing law enforcement functions as an advocate. UNTAG Law Review, 1(1), 47. doi: 10.36356/ulrev.v1i1.522
- Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2007). Ethical Considerations in Crisis and Humanitarian Interventions. Ethics & Behavior, 17(2), 187-202. doi: 10.1080/10508420701378123
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