The Fredericton Police Force has long recognized the social and criminal impact of intimate partner violence (IPV) and the role police officers play in being one of the first contacts that an IPV victim encounters with the justice system. IPV calls are often volatile, repetitive and in some cases fatal not only to the victim, but also to the responding officer. We recognized that members of the policing community need a set of unique skills and competencies to effectively and successfully intervene in IPV incidents. Police senior management along with the Force's members recognized that something had to be done to improve police intervention. In 2006, the Fredericton Police Force entered into a unique and innovative partnership with the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research (MMFC) to assist in designing, piloting and implementing a training program for police officers in their important role in relation to IPV. The program is making a significant difference in the lives of people affected by IPV and has been adopted by other police agencies, and is available online through the University of New Brunswick (UNB) College of Extended Learning. The basis of the program has been used as a model for other social service related agencies.The five module train-the-trainer program, entitled “Understanding the Impact of Intimate Partner Violence: Helping Police Officers to Better Intervene,” was completed in late 2006. The program contained many unique components including attention to diversity and culture, and impact of IPV on police officers as victims or potential abusers. The train-the-trainer program was designed to certify police officers to deliver training to others in their agency about the impact of and effective responses to intimate partner violence. The Fredericton Police Force further participated in the pilot project by providing four police officers to receive instructor training. One of the key components to this program is the design and delivery of the training from a police officer’s perspective. Our officers provided this perspective in the design and delivery of the training by receiving and reviewing it and providing feedback to the researchers.
This initiative has several objectives:
The initiative was led by the Deputy Chief of Police, with members from the Fredericton Police Force participating in a variety of roles for this project. These roles included members of the Force being actively involved in the multidisciplinary Advisory and Working committees. The main objective of the Advisory and Working committees was to provide input into the development of the train-the-trainer program to help police officers intervene effectively and safely in situations of IPV.
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This initiative was a collaborate effort with the direct involvement of the MMFC and was informed by research and stakeholder input.
The initiative began in 2006 as the pilot agency. Once the trainers had completed the pilot program, they provided force-wide training in 2007. Approximately 90 members of the Fredericton Police Force received this training and now have a new set of skills and competencies. New recruits to the Force receive training on IPV issues during their on-the-job orientation.
IPV is a widespread societal issue that has been identified as a priority by Police Executive Office, as well as by partnering agencies.
IPV intervention will ultimately reduce costs both socially and economically. There were costs for production, training, binders, discs, a training venue for police, research (funded through MMFC), and the time required for our members to be part of the Advisory and Working committees and participate in the train-the-trainer program and staff-wide training.
Pilot project and forcewide training.
Participation and feedback from the Fredericton Police Force has resulted in achieving the goals set out by the IPV Advisory Committee. The IPV Advisory Committee aimed to develop a program that would make a significant difference in the lives of people affected by IPV. By the Fredericton Police Force committing members’ participation, time and expertise, this goal is being realized. Not only are officers better prepared when encountering IPV situations, this is a program designed for police officers that can and has been delivered throughout the province of New Brunswick and nationally.To further the objectives of the project, two articles were jointly published by the Fredericton Police Force and the MMFF in national and international magazines. These articles discussed the importance of the IPV project in furthering the prevention and elimination of intimate partner violence. In the Fall 2007 issue of Canadian Police Chief Magazine, the article "Understanding the Impact of Intimate Partner Violence: Helping Police Officers to Better Intervene” was published. This article gave an overview of the project and provided readers with a summary of the completed training program modules. A second article, entitled “Intimate Partner Violence: Training for Police Officers as a Component of Effective Justice System Response,” was published in the Winter 2007 issue of WomenPolice Magazine, an international magazine. These articles increased the awareness, both nationally and internationally, of this important issue and program. The FPF/MMFF IPV model has been presented nationally and internationally and is available as an online course through the UNB College of Extended Learning. All new members of the FPF receive training on IPV from the trainers.
Enhance skills and attitudes in police intervention, increase public awareness and decrease incidents of IPV.
In 2008, members of the Force agreed to further assist the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation in evaluating the program’s effectiveness and the success of the IPV training by participating in three one-hour focus sessions. This feedback provided the researchers with a real-life look at how the training had enhanced police officers’ knowledge of intimate partner violence and their intervention in these types of cases. The objectives of the focus sessions were to assess the extent to which the program had expanded the awareness and understanding that police officers have of IPV; whether the knowledge and perspective acquired through the program had increased their preparedness to deal with situations of IPV; identify any changes in approach that had resulted from the training, and document examples of how these changes had been applied in police work; and to highlight existing challenges for police officers dealing with IPV and identify ways to improve officer training. By providing the researchers with this type of feedback opportunity, participants help ensure that the train-the-trainer course truly reflects training from a police officer’s perspective.Participation and feedback from the Fredericton Police Force has resulted in achieving the goals set out by the IPV Advisory Committee. The IPV Advisory Committee had hoped that the program would make a significant difference in the lives of people affected by IPV and had hoped it would be adopted by other police agencies, recruit training academies and various workplaces across the province and beyond. By the Fredericton Police Force committing members’ participation, time and expertise, this goal has been achieved. Not only are Fredericton Police Force officers better prepared when encountering IPV situations; this is a program designed for police officers that can be delivered throughout the province of New Brunswick and nationally.
IPV occurrence reports are stamped "IPV" by the Chief Reader to flag these files for special investigative follow-up. Chronic IPV offenders are highlighted on our Prolific and Priority Offender list and IPV files are flagged for Crown Prosecutor review, which has an impact on decisions and conditions for release, charge and sentencing. This system has raised awareness and commitment by police and Crown when dealing with cases of IPV.