The Lincoln Police Department takes domestic violence investigations very seriously. These incidents are some of the most highly contemplated and scrutinized investigations that we handle on a regular basis. We realize that domestic violence victims' perceptions of the criminal justice system can be key to effective safety planning as they navigate the limited choices their abusive relationships provide them. If victims do not perceive the system as a safe ally, then they might be less willing to engage with law enforcement, prosecution, community supervision and community resources when they need immediate or long-term help. This increases their isolation, which, in turn, reinforces abusers' power and control over victims' lives.
Lancaster County has very strong Coordinated Community Response teams for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. We meet monthly and coordinate between agencies weekly and often daily. LPD and its Victim Assistance Unit are active members of these teams and have been since their inception.
All officers are trained in domestic violence investigations for an entire week during the basic academy, including content related to state statutes, policies, and a day of practical scenario-based training with advocate and officer volunteers who act out scenarios and provide them constructive feedback. All officers are trained to carefully assess domestic calls for service and consider victim and child safety, lethality risks and how to communicate effectively with victims about resources and assistance in the community.
The Lincoln Police Department has a dedicated domestic violence coordinator who reviews all domestic related calls for service daily and assists with follow up and risk assessment. The investigator in that position is a resource for the department and partners with organizations in the community to assist with specific cases; provide training, working with victims, and answering questions. The investigator in this position receives specialized training in domestic violence and other relevant topics to enhance their ability to serve in this capacity.
LPD also houses an internal Victim Assistance Unit, which is a civilian unit that serves victims of all types of crime. This unit provides outreach and advocacy to victims of crime, including domestic violence victims and serves actively on the Domestic Violence Case Management Team (which is our Coordinated Response Team). We also provide walk-in advocacy for victims of crime, many of whom are seeking protection orders and we take referrals from other agencies as well as law enforcement, the county jail, the crisis center, etc. We are able to meet people outside the courthouse setting and assist them elsewhere if that is better for them. We are also able to act as a liaison between victims and law enforcement if they need to make a report, get updates on their case, a complaint referral or some other type of communication. We do the same with county attorneys and partners in the community.
We realize the traumatic experiences often involved in domestic violence situations and are motivated to do our best to have a positive impact. We believe that as a member of the Coordinated Response Team, we can help victims better understand and navigate the confusion of a system and help them make informed choices. We can help them safety plan and empower them to be as involved as they choose. We can surround them with support and resources and remove obstacles. We can ensure their voices are heard. As one of the team's founding members, LPD continues to dedicate its staff to this team and its goals.