Austin police officers must now watch video on domestic violence as part of training

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Every day in October, Lisa Girouard carries purple ribbons every where she goes and talks to anyone who will listen to her message about Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“You probably know someone dealing with domestic violence. One-in-four women will be a victim in their lifetime and 1-in-7 men,” said Girouard a veteran with the Austin Police Department’s Family Violent Protection Team for 18 years. She has helped thousands of survivors.

GET HELP

If you are experiencing domestic violence and need help, you can call the SAFE Alliance at (512) 267-7233 or The National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233.

“I read police reports and talk to victims all day, every day. I hear stories about the worst moments in people’s lives,” she said. “I think the biggest misconception is that if the victim would just leave, the situation would resolve itself. The reality is that leaving is the most dangerous time for victims,” said Girouard. “There are any number of challenges including resource demands, the volume of cases, public mistrust of law enforcement, and unfamiliarity of the system.”

That’s part of the reason why the Austin Police Department rolled out a new training video this year with Girouard’s help.

“It very much grabs your attention right from the beginning and it’s different. It’s very different,” she said. 

The video starts with a real 911 domestic violence calls:

911 Operator: “Has he shot anybody?”

Caller: “He fired inside and I don’t know if he shot anybody. I’m afraid for me and my baby, please hurry please.”

The video was created by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, (IACP). Girouard saw it at a conference and brought it to the attention of her supervisors at APD and urged them to implement the video as an extra layer of training.

“This training serves as a reminder and discusses the critical context of domestic violence, on-scene response, offender realities, threats to officers, and partnerships in addressing the issue of domestic violence,” she said.

The video is now protocol. Every officer on the street, every investigator, every sworn personnel at APD must watch the hour-long video broken up into several parts. 

“It’s just useful it’s helpful. It’s going to help remind them [officers] what a great job they are already doing and it’s going to motivate them to continue to provide victim centered response when they get there,” explains Girouard.

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