New Indiana law requires specialized training for officers who investigate sexual assault

IN Focus: Indiana Politics

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana law going into effect next month requires new training standards for law enforcement officers who investigate sexual assault.

Beginning in July, the state’s law enforcement training board will be tasked with creating those standards within a year.

“My major goal was let’s get rid of the stigma,” said State Sen. Blake Doriot (R-Goshen).

For State Sen. Doriot, sexual assault is a deeply personal issue.

“My mother’s passed,” Doriot said. “She was a rape victim in her older age.

“I tried to get her to go to the police, but she said, ‘I don’t want to be that woman. I don’t want to endure those horrors.’ And so we really want to minimize that.”

That’s why he helped write the law, he said.

“Number one, we need to take care of the victim,” Doriot said. “Number two, we need to get the criminal off the street.”

The new training will focus on how and when law enforcement officers communicate with sexual assault survivors while investigating these crimes, Sen. Doriot explained. The goal is to make that questioning more effective to help them get justice, he added.

“Science shows us that if you allow, if you give a survivor the opportunity to have two or three nights’ rest, there’s a better chance that that rest is going to allow those memories to consolidate,” explained Tracey Horth Krueger, president and CEO of the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking.

Several advocacy groups for sexual assault survivors support the new law, saying it’s critical for law enforcement officers to understand the impacts of trauma.

“For the officers to receive further training on this I think will be a huge help for interacting with survivors,” said Whitney Guthrie, assistant director for the survivor advocacy program for the Children’s Bureau, Inc.

The Indiana Law Enforcement Academy is working with mental health professionals to create the new training standards, according to the academy’s executive director Tim Horty.

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