In 2019, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and several NACDL state chapters rallied to defeat ABA Resolution 114. The resolution endorsed concepts of “affirmative consent” and “trauma-informed” investigations.
NACDL’s opposition to the legislation recognized that when it comes to social and sexual engineering, “[t]he criminal law is an incorrect vehicle to impose novel social legislation designed to dictate social mores.”
Bigger problems exist with training for “affirmative consent” and “trauma-informed” investigations. When it comes to criminal investigations, these concepts are unconstitutional and unscientific.
Furthermore, the federal government shouldn’t be handing out grant money for this training which effectively requires local law enforcement agencies to comply. Officers that don’t comply typically don’t get promoted.
The impact of this type of training causes common sense to go out the window, resources are wasted prosecuting innocent people, and not enough resources are left over for the most serious cases.
I recently had a sexual battery or “date rape” type case. The lead detective interviewed the alleged victim but made almost no effort to ask her about big discrepancies or follow up on information that showed she had not been truthful. When I asked why those mistakes occurred, the detective started talking about her training in “trauma-informed” investigations. I had no idea what she was talking about at the time.
Since then, I’ve read some of the training materials and it is shocking. So I was particularly interested in this topic when I saw the press release from NACDL.
Edward E. Bartlett, Ph.D., the President of the Coalition to End Domestic Violence recently spoke at the annual meeting of the New Hampshire Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers a few months later to explain in greater detail why “trauma-informed” methods are completely devoid of a scientific basis.
In practice, these techniques bias the process in favor of the alleged victim, remove the presumption of innocence, and eliminate impartial investigations. During this legislative session, the Senate is expected to vote on S. 3623 during the week of February 28, 2022.
This bill to reauthorize VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) contains Section 205 which promotes what is known as “Trauma-Informed, Victim-Centered Training for Law Enforcement.” The bill gives the following explanation for “trauma-informed, victim-centered” techniques:
Trauma-informed, victim-centered techniques designed to—
‘(A) prevent re-traumatization of the victim;
‘‘(B) ensure that covered individuals use evidence-based practices to respond to and investigate cases of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking;
‘‘(C) improve communication between victims and law enforcement officers in an effort to increase the likelihood of the successful investigation and prosecution of the reported crime in a manner that protects the victim to the greatest extent possible….
We note that NACDL and Edward E. Bartlett, Ph.D., suggest urging the Senate to remove Section 205 from the VAWA bill. They suggest calling your senator so they know your position.
2021 H.R. 1620 provided, in part:
Subtitle Q–Trauma-informed, Victim-centered Training for Law Enforcement
“SEC. 41701. DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM ON TRAUMA-INFORMED, VICTIM-CENTERED TRAINING FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT.
“…“(b) Grants Authorized.–
“(1) In general.–The Attorney General shall award grants on a competitive basis to eligible entities to carry out the demonstration program under this section by implementing evidence-based or promising policies and practices to incorporate trauma-informed, victim-centered techniques designed to–
“ (A) prevent re-traumatization of the victim;
“ (B) ensure that covered individuals use evidence-based practices to respond to and investigate cases of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking;
“ (C) improve communication between victims and law enforcement officers in an effort to increase the likelihood of the successful investigation and prosecution of the reported crime in a manner that protects the victim to the greatest extent possible;
“ (D) increase collaboration among stakeholders who are part of the coordinated community response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking; and
“ (E) evaluate the effectiveness of the training process and content by measuring–
“ (i) investigative and prosecutorial practices and outcomes; and
“ (ii) the well-being of victims and their satisfaction with the criminal justice process.
“(2) Term.–The Attorney General shall make grants under this section for each of the first 2 fiscal years beginning after the date of enactment of this Act.
“(3) Award basis.–The Attorney General shall award grants under this section to multiple eligible entities for use in a variety of settings and communities, including–
“ (A) urban, suburban, Tribal, remote, and rural areas;
“ (B) college campuses; or
“ (C) traditionally underserved communities.
“ (c) Use of Funds.–An eligible entity that receives a grant under this section shall use the grant to–
“(1) train covered individuals within the demonstration site of the eligible entity to use evidence-based, trauma- informed, and victim-centered techniques and knowledge of crime victims’ rights throughout an investigation into domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including by–
“ (A) conducting victim interviews in a manner that–
“ (i) elicits valuable information about the domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking; and
“ (ii) avoids re-traumatization of the victim;
“ (B) conducting field investigations that mirror best and promising practices available at the time of the investigation;
“ (C) customizing investigative approaches to ensure a culturally and linguistically appropriate approach to the community being served;
“ (D) becoming proficient in understanding and responding to complex cases, including cases of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking–
“ (i) facilitated by alcohol or drugs;
“ (ii) involving strangulation;
“ (iii) committed by a non-stranger;
“ (iv) committed by an individual of the same sex as the victim;
“ (v) involving a victim with a disability;
` `(vi) involving a male victim; or
“ (vii) involving a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (commonly referred to as `LGBT’) victim;
“ (E) developing collaborative relationships between–
“ (i) law enforcement officers and other members of the response team; and
“ (ii) the community being served; and
“ (F) developing an understanding of how to define, identify, and correctly classify a report of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking; and
“(2) promote the efforts of the eligible entity to improve the response of covered individuals to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking through various
communication channels, such as the website of the eligible entity, social media, print materials, and community meetings, in order to ensure that all covered individuals
within the demonstration site of the eligible entity are aware of those efforts and included in trainings, to the extent practicable.
“(d) Demonstration Program Trainings on Trauma-informed, Victim-centered Approaches.–
“(1) Identification of existing trainings.–
“ (A) In general.–The Attorney General shall identify trainings for law enforcement officers, in existence as of the date on which the Attorney General begins to solicit applications for grants under this section, that–
“ (i) employ a trauma-informed, victim-centered approach to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking; and
“ (ii) focus on the fundamentals of–
“ (I) trauma responses; and
“ (II) the impact of trauma on victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
“ (B) Selection.–An eligible entity that receives a grant under this section shall select one or more of the approaches employed by a training identified under subparagraph (A) to test within the demonstration site of the eligible entity.
“(2) Consultation.–In carrying out paragraph (1), the Attorney General shall consult with the Director of the Office for Victims of Crime in order to seek input from and
cultivate consensus among outside practitioners and other stakeholders through facilitated discussions and focus groups on best practices in the field of trauma-informed, victim- centered care for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
“(e) Evaluation.–The Attorney General, in consultation with the Director of the National Institute of Justice, shall require each eligible entity that receives a grant under this section to identify a research partner, preferably a local research partner, to–
“(1) design a system for generating and collecting the appropriate data to facilitate an independent process or impact evaluation of the use of the grant funds;
“(2) periodically conduct an evaluation described in paragraph (1); and
“(3) periodically make publicly available, during the grant period–
“ (A) preliminary results of the evaluations conducted under paragraph (2); and
“ (B) recommendations for improving the use of the grant funds.
“(f) Authorization of Appropriations.–The Attorney General shall carry out this section using amounts otherwise available to the Attorney General.
“(g) Rule of Construction.–Nothing in this section shall be construed to interfere with the due process rights of any individual.”…..