Not Just Feeling Words: How Victim Services Can Lead to Success in Law Enforcement

Not Just Feeling Words: How Victim Services Can Lead to Success in Law Enforcement
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-02-23
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Not Just Feeling Words: How Victim Services Can Lead to Success in Law Enforcement
Unit 2Transcript: Not Just Feeling Words: How Victim Services Can Lead to Success in Law Enforcement
Unit 3Workbook: Not Just Feeling Words: How Victim Services Can Lead to Success in Law Enforcement
Unit 4Recording: Not Just Feeling Words: How Victim Services Can Lead to Success in Law Enforcement

Victim services and law enforcement are similar in how these two distinct professions tend to apply skill sets or practices that intersect with other professions to be fully effective in their roles. This webinar explores how the Chattanooga Police Department (CPD) was able to utilize the victim-centered and trauma-informed approach used in victim services to build trust in the community and legitimacy in their agency.

Leading the conversation are retired Chief Fred Fletcher and Caroline Huffaker. Chief Fletcher is currently a Public Safety Consultant who specializes in helping agencies implement victim-focused and trauma-informed policing. He previously led CPD’s Victim Services Unit (VSU). Meanwhile, Caroline is a Senior Program Manager at the National Policing Institute (NPI) currently. Prior to this role, she was the Victim Services and Chaplains Director at the CPD.

Specifics of the discussion are:

  • The similarities in the responsibilities of victim services and law enforcement.
  • An overview of the City of Chattanooga and the state of the CPD which served as the impetus for adopting a systems-based victim service.
  • Chief Fletcher’s personal experience that led to him discovering and applying the victim services approach to his role and appreciating its value.
  • The Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Victims (ELERV) Grant awarded to CPD
    • How it kickstarted their advocacy for a victim-centered and trauma-informed approach to policing.
    • The research partners that helped CPD assess the state of their victim services inclination.
    • The disconnect between internal and external findings which motivated CPD to make comprehensive operational amendments.
  • What it means to be trauma-informed in policing – how this is rooted in empathy, compassion, and caring, the value in understanding trauma, the science that backs up the approach, and how it impacts the community and the agency
  • The three components that must be provided by law enforcement as part of trauma-informed policing.
  • The agency-wide implementation of victim-centered approach in CPD.
    • How this started with policies including the promotions process, performance evaluations, and systems where the agency staff engages with victims and their families.
    • Integrating the approach to the different aspects of training from rank to leadership as well as assimilating soft skills that provide officers with a better understanding of the communities they serve.
    • Incorporating the victim services approach into the agency’s full menu of services.
  • The value in measuring and modeling such that compassion-based victim service is imbibed as a core value that everyone must observe and apply in policing.
  • Emphasizing the weight of the victim services initiative in terms of the org chart where the VSU is reporting directly to the Chief and situating the office of the VSU Director right outside the Chief’s office.
  • Examples were provided on how a victim services approach was able to make positive outcomes out of tragic incidents in Chattanooga.
  • How the victim services programming was able to impact different aspects of CPD’s operation – from budget, officer buy-in, and organizational culture to performance measures and traditional metrics like clearance rates.

Questions from the webinar attendees are on:

  • Terminologies used during the webinar.
  • Recommended training to get started on trauma-informed programming.
  • Dealing with pushback and getting them to buy in to the initiative.



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Resources and Handouts

Audience Comments

  • “Excellent Program. They have their act together. “– Robert
  • “As a victim advocate, I enjoyed hearing Chief Fletcher’s knowledge and compassion about working with victims. In my 8 years as an advocate, I have never encountered a LE officer that has been trauma-informed and compassionate with victims. I hope we can get our local law enforcement to attend trainings and have better relationships as community partners. It’s hard just to get them to attend training. Any advice on how we can do that. We already offer CLEET and MH hours and usually free lunch for attendees.” — Monique
  • “I appreciated seeing the good rapport that the presenters had with each other, and how supportive the chief was about victim services.” — Tricia
  • “I learned way more than just one thing. I think the reminders that empathy goes both ways were huge. I would love to learn more about the process to starting up a collaboration between Law Enforcement and Victim Services!” — Tiffany
  • “The National Policing Institute hosts some pretty informative webinars.” — MELANIE
  • “I extremely loved how “real” each person was in talking about their experience. Helps to understand, realistically, and honestly on the work we do within victim assistance.” — Melissa
  • “Just great information on how to get buy-in was super awesome!! Great ideas!” — Analena
  • “I appreciate the speaker’s transparency and degree of expertise!” — Carin
  • “Seeing a leader, a chief that not only accepted but championed victim services was really inspirational. How can we influence more leaders to learn about this topic?” — Hazel
  • “Empathy leads to trust. That caring/compassion-based services, and trauma-informed victim-centered policing will transform relationships with the community from fear to trustful collaboration. This is the best Justice Clearinghouse webinar I have attended. Thank you.” — Rod



About the National Policing Institute: Formerly known as the National Police Foundation, the National Policing Institute’s mission is to pursue excellence in policing through innovation and science. It is the oldest nationally-known, non-profit, non-partisan, and non-membership-driven organization dedicated to improving America’s most noble profession – policing.

The National Policing Institute has been on the cutting edge of police innovation for over 50 years since it was established by the Ford Foundation as a result of the President’s Commission on the Challenge of Crime in a Free Society (1967) and the related conclusions of the Kerner and Eisenhower Commissions, taking place during the same era.



Additional Resources
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Thoughts about Modeling Behavior from Fred Fletcher
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Thoughts about Caring about Victims from Fred Fletcher
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After the Webinar: Not Just Feeling Words – How Victim Services Can Lead to Success in Law Enforcement. Q&A with the Presenters
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