VICENZA-- What is domestic violence? How do first responders assist a victim? Which agencies may intervene to support families undergoing a crisis of domestic violence?

These and other topics were discussed during a five-day training session for approximately 20 participants at the Arena on Caserma Ederle from Aug. 7-11.

"I have coordinated the U.S. Army Military Police School to come to Vicenza to provide advanced training for the Military Police and the multi-professionals in the community involved in the intervention of domestic violence," said Susan Swisher, Army Community Service, Family Advocacy Program manager.

"I always have my antennae up for any novel ideas and best practice for our community and learned about Domestic Violence Intervention Training (DVIT) from other FAP managers," she said.

"As the FAP manager, my role is the prevention and education of intimate partner and child abuse for the garrison. To that end, I wanted to take advantage of all available resources offered for advanced training of our multidisciplinary response team and learned about the DVIT offered by the Mobile Training Team of the U.S. Army Military Police School," she continued.

Swisher added that the U.S. Army Police School has a division called Behavioral Science Education and Training (BSETD) that is based in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

After coordinating the training with the Vicenza MP Station manager, the DVIT team came to the community upon invitation.

"It was as simple as an email request. It has been a great way for FAP personnel, Chaplains and behavioral health to have an overview of the law enforcement perspective and discuss best strategy for our community," she said.

Attending the training were 16 MP patrols who serve as first responders, including two MPs from Camp Darby.

The two trainers from BSETD were Elizabeth Bailey and Larry Maxwell, former military law enforcement officers.

"DVIT is a five-day course, which provides advanced training to law enforcement personnel domestic violence first responders, investigators and accredited agents," said Bailey, DVIT Branch chief.

She described how the training focuses on effective intervention and investigation of family dysfunctional incidents utilizing a multi-disciplinary approach, with emphasis on protection of the victim, and return of the family to a healthy state.

"The course includes topics such as response techniques, dynamics and psychological aspects of Intimate Partner/DV, overview of interview techniques, psychological long term effects of IP/DV on children, understanding the neurobiology of trauma and assessing and calming techniques," said Bailey.

Additionally, she explained how this specific type of advanced training can enhance knowledge and understanding of Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) over a wide range of topics when interacting with the community members.

"This training also affords the opportunity for collaboration between the multiple agencies involved in the DV/IP violence arena such as FAP, ACS, Behavioral Health, agents, investigators, LEOs.
Members of the Domestic Violence arena that attend training are able to gain insight and perspective into the daily dealings of a law enforcement officer, and further enhances cohesion and teamwork among agencies," she said.

In addition to the professionals from the States, Swisher was also able to coordinate with Luogotenente Federico Brigo of the Italian Carabinieri to discuss the methodology of host nation policing and use of the court system for victim protection.

Brigo, who serves as the SETAF Carabinieri Criminal Investigations commander, answered several questions from attendees and trainers, while at the event.

"Definitely, the training is important," he said, "throughout the years, Italian judicial authorities have been developing more and more consideration toward this type of crimes, and every single case of domestic violence is accurately analyzed," said Brigo.

He highlighted that it is important to share the knowledge of domestic violence and similar crimes with American counterparts.

"As SETAF Carabinieri we have been working for many years with several offices including DES, Military Police, U.S. Army and CID, and, very often, with social workers always in the respect of the Italian law and authorization by Italian magistrate. At times our intervention may slightly differ from the American, but we always have a good response from the U.S. Army Law Enforcement when we need their support for investigations," he said.

Participants in the training were very positive about this opportunity.
One of them, Karen Wilson, Licensed Certified Social Worker-Clinical, works at the Vicenza Health Clinic FAP.

"This training was excellent for the discussion and collaboration of the different perspectives. I learned a lot about the structure of the MPs' role and coordination with the Carabinieri," she said.

She added that she is new to FAP in Italy and will be working very closely with the MPs when there is a domestic incident.

"I work on-call and will be responding on domestic and child abuse calls with the MPs. FAP does similar required training called the FAST course which has a Law Enforcement component, but involved more of the behavioral health perspective," she continued.

Some of the MPs who had previous training experiences thought that this training was truly beneficial.

"This is the first in-depth training that I've had for Domestic Violence," said Sgt. Westly Gilleland, MP Patrol supervisor.

"I think that this is improving our skills as mediators on the scene to try to de-escalate situations and help resolve them, and also assists us in getting all the facts about what it is, so we have a better plan as we move forward trying to resolve the conflict or the situation," he added.

According to him, the DVIT offers several aspects including the impact that it [domestic violence] has on the people that are around a situation, not just the individuals that are either the subject or victim of the incident.

"I definitely think that it's something that not only Military Police can utilize, but we also have victim advocates, social workers and people that are in similar jobs that help assist these family members, and these victims get the necessary help they need," he said.