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SAFVIC increases awareness, informs victim advocates

By Staff Sgt. Beth Del Vecchio | 12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs | Feb. 8, 2007

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — The 12th Security Forces Squadron will host a Sexual Assault and Family Violence Investigator's Course here in March.

SAFVIC is designed to provide law enforcement officers around the state with the tools necessary to efficiently investigate and prevent sexual assault and family violence. The 12th SFS has opened the class to victim advocates, first sergeants and legal personnel here in order to educate Team Randolph.

"The better we understand and the more educated we are as law enforcement and advocates, the better we will be able to assist the victims of these crimes," said Tech. Sgt. Lawrence Saiz, 12th SFS training.

According to the course Web site, the three-day course curriculum was developed by a committee of experts from law enforcement, prosecution and victim services. It covers crucial aspects for law enforcement's response to sexual assault and family violence crimes and different community-based resources that assist law enforcement efforts.

The training is offered free and will be taught by Wayne Springer, a certified instructor from the Medina County Sheriff's Office. He works in the Criminal Investigation Department on person crimes such as sexual assault, child abuse and homicide.

"I believe every person that handles family violence and sexual assault calls needs to understand the characteristics of family violence and sexual assault," Sergeant Springer said. "They also should have an understanding of the victims needs."

Sergeant Springer has more than 2,400 hours of training in sexual assault, family violence and crime scene investigation. He has more than 16 years of experience responding to and investigating crime scenes involving sexual assault and family violence.

"Building a team with the victim, law enforcement, prosecutors and advocates is essential for successful prosecution and victim healing," Sergeant Springer said. "A coalition made up of all of these team members developed this course and that's why this course has such a profound impact."

Maj. Debbie Pharris, 340th Flying Training Group Deputy Inspector General, attended the first SAFVIC held at Randolph. She works as the Sexual Assualt Response Coordinator Reserve liaison and is also the 12th Flying Training Wing Sexual Assault Prevention and Outreach Program educator.

Major Pharris explained that although her primary role is to listen to victims and provide support, it helped her to better understand the roles of the various agencies involved in helping victims.

"Often, each individual or agency gets focused on their particular role and sometimes overlooks that they are just one piece of the puzzle," the major said. "The better we can understand one another's role, the better we can achieve the ultimate goal of taking care of the victim. The better educated we are about the entire process, the more synergistic our team becomes."

As a 12th SF member and first responder to incidents on Randolph, Senior Airman Chad Adams, said the course helped him to realize how vital it is to treat victims on scene at a sexual assault or domestic disturbance and to gather the proper evidence to ensure a successful prosecution of the suspect.

"The course taught me techniques that I can use to take care of the victim and ensure the suspect gets prosecuted," he said. "By the end, everyone knows what the other organizations do, so we all can help each other to get better information and assist in providing the proper services to the victim."

The 12th SFS hopes to host SAFVIC on a regular basis, but will use feedback from participants to determine a schedule for the class.

"We want to train all of our SF members, but we know there are other people on Randolph who can benefit from the training," Sergeant Saiz said. "The feedback from the first course was positive. We hope to keep it going."

The next SAFVIC will be held March 6-8. For more information on SAFVIC, call Sergeant Saiz, SF training, at 652-2744.