Local law enforcement trained on domestic violence, sexual assault

ZACHARY, La. — Officers from seven local law enforcement agencies gathered in Zachary Tuesday to participate in the Louisiana Department of Justice’s training session dedicated to teaching law enforcement how to better help victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking.

The eight-hour event called “Protecting Louisiana’s Families Training,” was held at the Pointe at Americana. The training was one of nine that the LDOJ holds. The training is funded by the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and new training is rolled out every year.

“We pulled some numbers for our city for the year. When we looked at the numbers that we had, not only just strictly domestic violence but our domestic violence-related crimes, those numbers were really high,” said Zachary Police Chief Darryl Lawrence. “We wanted to try to make sure that our officers are up on all of the up-to-date policies and up-to-date laws on what we’re doing. We offered it (training) out to other agencies around the area to make sure we educate our officers on how to deal with some of this.”

Several presentations were made throughout the day on topics ranging from surviving childhood sexual assault and domestic violence to what defines human trafficking in Louisiana.

“Some of the reasons why we think that this (training) is so important is because Louisiana is fifth in domestic violence homicide, and also because it is one of two of the most dangerous calls for law enforcement to go on,” said Monica Taylor, special projects coordinator for the Attorney General’s Office. “Traffic stops and domestic violence calls as we’ve seen in Baton Rouge, we’ve had officers who were killed dealing with domestic battles, so that’s been a big issue. We want to make sure that we’re keeping our officers safe. Jeff Landry is committed to trying to give law enforcement as much information and as many tools as possible to be able to do their jobs.”

At Tuesday’s event, Taylor did a presentation on human trafficking. According to Taylor, runaways are often targets of trafficking but she added there isn’t a template to follow to determine exactly who the victims of trafficking are.

“A lot of times, it’s really hard to identify, especially with social media, because it goes against race, religion, social, economic status, all of those types of things,” she said. “Sometimes, we tend to have the movie version in our head, whether it’s someone chained to the bed or someone who lives in poverty being abused, but you could have a young girl who is blonde, white, rich family and just doesn’t feel like she’s getting the love and attention or a young boy who feels like they’re not getting the love and attention from their family. They seek something out and there’s someone out there who is willing to use their desire to be seen and heard by manipulating them and grooming them into doing all of these things.”

The final training session is scheduled for Thursday in Zachary.

“We want to make sure we’re being proactive about it,” Lawrence said. “We want to try to accomplish things that we told people we wanted to do. We’re doing that here. There’ll be some other things that we want to do also. We want to be somebody that tries to solve and try to help here.”

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