Improved service in the field the aim of OPP Survivor’s Conference                    

Sault Ste. Marie OPP hosted a Survivor’s Conference Wednesday at the Machine Shop.

Expert speakers and victims of human trafficking, Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault.

The conference’s 125 attendees included numerous OPP officers from the Northeastern Ontario region, as well as community and policing partners.

“This conference helps open the eyes of officers and community partners by hearing lived experience from our presenters,” said Sault OPP Detective-Constable Christie McClelland. “There are pieces that we can take away on how to better interview victims and handle sensitive investigations.”

It was a media-controlled event, due to the sensitive nature of the topics. No media interviews were allowed with speakers. An OPP mental health clinician was on hand if victims felt the need to reach out and speak to someone during the conference.

In June of last year, the Sault OPP Crime Unit applied for provincial government funding toward victim support, put support in place, and to handle investigations better.

Laurie Graham, Staff Sgt. Detachment Commander with Sault OPP, was asked if greater empathy for victims can be one of the main takeaways from the conference. 

“We have great officers that deal with this stuff day-in and day-out. If they can take one or two things away to help them better their investigations, help them speak with victims, it’s a good day,” said Graham.

“We’ve got insights from the local experts and community partners that we brought in today and education that really brings us investigative tools that will allow us to progress and empathize with victims that we’re dealing with. Part of the education portion is that the OPP is very focused on victim-centred trauma-informed interviewing which is part of our focus today. It really brings empathy to our investigations.”

Graham says better interviewing can help officers provide better assistance.

“In order to help them to report the crime, to bring it to court, to seek justice, we need to be empathetic to their report to us. The sensitive information they report is very important to them and should be important to us as well.”

Graham said the topics of the day are important. She said the OPP throughout the region hosts events regularly involving Intimate Partner Violence, Human Trafficking and Sexual Assault and hopes the Sault can host another conference next year. 

“With the alarming rise in Human Trafficking, Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault, the need for an event like this is crucial and of greatest importance,” says OPP Constable Ashley Nickle. 

“We need to evolve, continue to grow and change in the way we approach these occurrences,” added Nickle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *