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City of Cambridge Publishes New Guide to Help Police Departments & Municipalities Start Trauma-Informed Training Program


10/1/2020

Guide for a Trauma-Informed Law Enforcement Initiative Cover

The City of Cambridge today published a new resource that is intended to provide guidance to help police departments and municipalities all over the country design and implement a trauma-informed training and education program.

The “Guide for a Trauma-Informed Law Enforcement Initiative” is based on Cambridge, Massachusetts’ experience implementing and learning how to most effectively offer such a program. The City of Cambridge originally developed a program in 2015 and has spent the last five years refining it to best serve the community and its Officers. The genesis for the training was based on a series of reasons:

  • Police are often in situations where they may experience trauma, which can lead to high rates of depression, post-traumatic stress, alcohol use disorders and suicide.

  • Police are frequently responding to individuals who are experiencing trauma due to domestic violence, sexual assault, street violence and other serious incidents.

  • Communities may have suffered or are suffering trauma, themselves, due to significant events or various injustices.


“I am really proud of the work that has been done to develop and implement this trauma-informed training and education with the Cambridge Police Department and their many partner agencies,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “Trauma impacts survivors, but it can also affect first responders and communities at-large. By making this investment, we are able to better serve the public and more effectively inform and train personnel on properly caring for themselves.”

“Our Department and community have greatly benefited from the innovative training and the experiences gained from this initiative,” said Cambridge Police Commissioner Dr. Branville G. Bard, Jr. “This guide will enable other departments and municipalities to quickly and effectively adopt similar initiatives and learn from best practices, policies and procedures we have established here in Cambridge.”

“After fielding calls from communities across the country, we decided to put all the information in one place. People would hear about what we had created and wanted to be able to replicate it,” said Liz Speakman, Coordinator of the Cambridge Domestic and Gender-Based Violence Prevention Initiative, and someone who has been instrumental in the development and offering of this training. “We wanted to make it as easy as possible for other communities to learn from our process in order to tailor an approach that works for them” 

"The trauma-informed law enforcement training has been an important step Cambridge Police has taken to better understand the trauma that survivors of sexual and domestic violence experience and how to best support them," said Katia Santiago-Taylor, BARCC's Advocacy and Legislative Affairs Manager who has participated in the training program. "It has brought a lot of learning opportunities that we hope in the end will improve the experience of survivors who decide to report to law enforcement."

The comprehensive guide outlines the importance of the training, key logistics, sample training agendas and presentation templates, budget and funding, evaluation and research, related initiatives, references, and key contact information.

The trainings in Cambridge led to participants noting that training has allowed them to increase their compassion and understanding for survivors, as well as recognizing the importance of self-care. Others also acknowledged that learning about the neurobiology of trauma was among the most useful information they’ve acquired in trainings and understanding how the brain responds helped them to better understand survivors with whom they had worked in the past and led them to recognize false assumptions they previously may have made.

As part of its ongoing evaluation of the initiative, the City of Cambridge will plan to incorporate other timely and relevant elements, including race-related trauma.

To download the “Guide for a Trauma-Informed Law Enforcement Initiative” manual, please visit http://camb.ma/TraumaGuide.


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Branville G. Bard, Jr.
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