‘Community response’ focuses on needs of trauma victims

Kirk Boxleitner kboxleitner@ptleader.com
Posted 1/31/17

The complications of caring for victims while ensuring they receive justice was discussed Jan. 20 at a coordinated community response (CCR) meeting at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Dee Dee …

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‘Community response’ focuses on needs of trauma victims

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The complications of caring for victims while ensuring they receive justice was discussed Jan. 20 at a coordinated community response (CCR) meeting at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Dee Dee Spann, director of programs and services for Dove House Advocacy Services, a nonprofit organization that services victims of domestic violence, recapped a presentation about interviewing victims of trauma, given last year in Sequim.

“They had wonderful speakers, including a police chief from Maryland,” Spann said of the event.

“One of the things we learned was that traumatic memories are stored in a different part of the brain, so they can come out differently depending on how you ask the question,” she said. “On the stand, people will say, ‘Oh, they changed their story,’ but it just took a different form.”

While the CCR meeting attendees expressed approval for bringing such a presentation to the local community, Lianne Perron, a social worker with Jumping Mouse Children’s Center, suggested it should also include how such trauma can impact children specifically.

CCR meetings are aimed at bringing together officials in Jefferson County who deal with crime and victims, including the prosecuting attorney’s office, sheriff’s office, Port Townsend Police Department, Dove House Advocacy Services and court officials.

Julie St. Marie, chief deputy prosecutor, then proposed a trio of topics for further discussion at future CCR meetings: methods for prosecutors to preserve child hearsay statements for admissibility in court; avenues for investigating prior bad acts; and the most effective ways of assembling cases from circumstantial evidence, “since sexual assault cases rely almost exclusively on circumstantial evidence.”

Tracie Bick, Jefferson County court administrator, was among the final speakers at the meeting. She reminded those in attendance of last year’s passage of Initiative 1491, authorizing courts to issue “extreme risk protection orders” to remove individuals’ access to firearms.

“This would all take place on the Superior Court level,” Bick said. “The judge would have to hold a hearing on it within three business days, so these things would get acted on quick.”

Port Townsend Police Chief Mike Evans conceded that the first issuance of such an order in the city would be “a learning experience” for local law enforcement, but assured the public that “the safety of the officers and the victims will be number one.”

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