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Advocates and Law Enforcement: Oil and Water? (3/2017)
Adapted from an article originally appearing in Sexual Assault Report, Volume 11, Number 6, 2008, published by Civic Research Institiute. All rights reserved. While traveling and training for law enforcement, we are often questioned – and even challenged – about the role of victim advocates when responding to crimes of sexual violence. For example, Joanne once provided training in a state where the county prosecutor stood up and stated quite strongly that his office did not want advocates participating in any part of the law enforcement interview. This was particularly disappointing because we were talking at the time about best practices for the multidisciplinary response. Rather than discussing the current policy and its underlying rationale, the prosecutor simply declared that their policy was not to include advocates. Not surprisingly, this shut down any further discussion of the issue. On another occasion, Joanne talked to a group of officers who attended a conference workshop she presented earlier in the day. They asked if they could talk to her about “those advocates.” They went on to say that the advocates and officers in their community were like “oil and water.” Apparently, there had been a feud many years ago and – although no one could remember what the feud was about – they still couldn’t seem to get along. To help both groups understand some of the source of the tension, Joanne asked them to think about their organizational histories. Although there are more women in law enforcement today than when Joanne first joined the San Diego Police Department in April 1980, police departments are still generally male-dominated paramilitary organizations; as of 2013, only 13% of police officers were female (US Department of Justice, 2013), and only 219 women could be found in top leadership positions among 14,000 police agencies (Moraff, 2015). In contrast, most sexual assault coalitions and community-based rape crisis centers were created as a result of the feminist movement, when women gathered together to demand better treatment for rape victims. It’s easy to see that these two perspectives might clash at times. In order to understand each other, it is important for both groups to appreciate the unique history, experiences, roles, and responsibilities of each.
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Last Updated: 8/4/2017 10:20:38 AM
 
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