This past Friday, I was honored to have the opportunity to speak at the 3-Day Institute on Advanced Law Enforcement Practice in Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. There, veteran law enforcement officers were given the opportunity to learn about cutting edge/best practices in responding to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence.
The training, which ran from Wednesday to Friday last week, was funded by a grant from the EOPSS Office of Grants and Research and was a collaborative effort between EOPSS and the Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC), in coordination with Jane Doe, Inc. The timing was quite fitting, given that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
I could not have been more pleased than at the end of the training, when I was approached by two veteran Boston Police Officers who wanted me to know that it was the best training they had attended in the past several years.
Throughout my career, whether as a prosecutor, as Executive Director of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, or in my current role as Secretary, I have seen firsthand how domestic violence and sexual assault cases are among the most complicated and difficult that law enforcement encounter, and because of that, I am extremely proud that over the last few years, we have been able to make a number of advancements in this field.
Specifically, the Massachusetts Policy for Law Enforcement Response to Domestic Violence was updated and promulgated and the Sexual Assault Law Enforcement Guidelines were created, both of which have been broadly disseminated to law enforcement across the Commonwealth.
Additionally, this year, Governor Patrick signed two important pieces of legislation into law- the first gives greater protection of victims of sexual abuse and intimidation by allowing victims to obtain criminally enforceable restraining orders against any offender, regardless of their relationship with the victim, and the second expands and updates the use of victim compensation funds to provide greater relief to victims, including extending compensation for reasonable mental health counseling obtained as a result of the crime.
Finally, despite facing difficult budget choices caused by the worst recession in generations, this administration has recognized the importance of the MPTC and proposed to increase funding for it three times in the last two years. We will continue to push for the resources they need.
Though there is still so much work to be done, I am proud to say that we are moving in the right direction, with increased trainings, standardized best practices and guidelines, and legislative changes which provide better protection and services for those who need it most.