A Law Enforcement Executive's Approach to Vicarious Trauma in 2021
This conference workshop presentation provides a clear understanding of Vicarious Trauma (VT), how it manifests, and the potential impacts on police agencies as experienced by the Great Falls, Montana, Police Department (GFPD). This workshop covers an officer's journey, this agency's strategy and 3-pronged approach, crisis intervention techniques, the importance of a peer support program and community collaborations, along with an introduction to the Vicarious Trauma Toolkit and how the GFPD utilizes it. VT, in the form of both single incident and chronic trauma exposure, continues to affect police agencies and impact individual officers, organizations, and the communities they serve. Yet many jurisdictions are unsure of the necessary steps to mitigate it. IACP, together with the Office for Victims of Crime, has been working with police professionals to address work-related trauma exposure and provide solutions to help officers successfully navigate a 20-, 25-. or 30-year career.
International Association of Chiefs of Police
Tina Dimachkieh currently serves as the Project Manager for the Programs Team at the IACP. Ms. Dimachkieh manages programmatic activities for multiple multimillion dollar cooperative agreements with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) in the field of victim services focused on identifying and preventing gender bias through strengthening law enforcement response to crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, strangulation, and stalking, and addressing and mitigating the negative effects of vicarious trauma. Ms. Dimachkieh works with subject matter experts and advisory board members to provide national comprehensive training and technical assistance (TTA) to law enforcement agencies and multidisciplinary partners composed of victim advocacy groups, criminal justice professionals, first responders, and medical professionals across the country.
Great Falls Police Department
Captain Schaffer, a native of Bismarck ND, has been with the Great Falls Police Department since 1998 and supervises the Patrol Services Bureau at the Great Falls Police Department. Prior to that time he served 9 years with the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department in Bismarck, ND. He is a graduate of the Minot State University where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. In addition he is a 2014 graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico VA.
Captain Schaffer has served as the Captain of Patrol and Investigative Services and as a Lieutenant in Patrol Services. Captain Schaffer has worked in all areas of GFPD as the Training Sergeant and the Swing Shift Sergeant. He has also served as both a general case investigator and Special Victims Unit Detective.
Captain Schaffer worked with Northeastern University (MA) and the US Office of Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs to develop and pilot a Vicarious Trauma Toolkit (VTT) to assist Law Enforcement, Fire Services, Emergency Medical Services and Victim Services become more trauma informed. He has provided instruction on the VTT and its use at the 2017 International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Philadelphia. Captain Schaffer has taught in other areas to include Instructor Development, Law Enforcement’s Response to Autism, Disability Awareness, Verbal Tactics, PTSD/Stress Management and Active Shooter. He also teaches leadership training at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy’s Montana Executive Leadership Institute. He currently serves as the GFPD representative on the Crisis Steering Committee, the Cascade County Mental Health Local Advisory Council as the Vice Chair, The Great Falls Mental Health Treatment Court and the Crisis Response Team and has a passion for improving the outcomes for persons with Mental Health needs interacting with Law Enforcement.