Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Children Exposed to Violence

IACP in partnership with the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence (NCCEV) and Childhood Violent Trauma Center at the Yale Child Study Center have begun a multi-year initiative, supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, to increase the understanding of children exposed to violence (CEV) among law enforcement leaders and officers. The IACP and Yale will also provide the resources and tools necessary to equip law enforcement professionals in their vital role in helping children and families through identification and trauma-informed response to violent events. The IACP and the NCCEV will achieve these goals through two primary objectives:

  • Build on materials and resources that have been developed and recognized as best practices in law enforcement response to CEV to create a series of tools and resources that can equip law enforcement agency operations, activities, policies and procedures to meaningfully address children’s exposure to violence;
  • Utilize and refine existing models of training for law enforcement professionals, and the breadth of the IACP-developed venues for review and dissemination, to offer resources, training and technical assistance related to law enforcement responses to CEV in order to reach the largest possible number of law enforcement officers.


The National Center for Children Exposed to Violence and Childhood Violent Trauma Center at the Yale Child Study Center 

Meet our Partners

Dr. Steven Marans, Director of the NCCEV
Dr. Steven Berkowitz, Director of Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery
Chief Dean Esserman, New Haven Police Department of Police Services
Assistant Chief Luiz Casanova, New Haven Department of Police Services
Project Director Hilary Hahn, Childhood Violent Trauma Center
Clinical Coordinator Kristen Hammel, Childhood Violent Trauma Center
Assistant Administrator Colleen Vadala, NCCEV and the Trauma Section at the Yale Child Study Center
Director Sarah M. Greene, Southeast Regional Training Center of the NCCEV in Charlotte
Deputy Chief Eddie Levins, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department


Project Design and Implementation

Advisory Group

  • Provide strategic advice to inform the development of this project;
  • Advise on best methods to increase the adoption and use of evidence-based trauma-informed responses by law enforcement;
  • Provide guidance on best methods and tools to increase awareness on CEV within law enforcement.

Focus Group
IACP and Yale’s NCCEV will convene three focus group meetings.

  • Inform training, technical assistance, and resource development;
  • Provide recommendations on how to adapt tools and resources for various types of communities;
  • Test new and adapted tools and resources.


Future Project Deliverables

Self Assessment Tool
A self assessment tool will be created for law enforcement (with community stakeholders) to: gauge current identification of CEV incidents; determine current response to CEV; assess readiness to address CEV; and gauge capacity to enhance or improve agency response.

Brief Publications Addressing Roadblocks and Issues to Consider
This publication will address roadblocks and issues to consider on key areas identified by the Advisory group such as: Ingredients to Developing Community Partnerships; Enhancing Law Enforcement’s Role in Child Abuse and Neglect Investigations; Data Collection and Information Sharing.

Pocket Guide for Patrol Officers (Template)
This Guide will identify steps to take when coming into contact with CEV and child witnesses to violence including: Identifying children exposed to violence on-scene; Principles of, and basics for, responding to children and parents exposed to violence; When and how to contact appropriate service providers as partners in responding to CEV, e.g. social services, medical services, mental health providers, etc.

Resource Library
A resource library will be created and housed within IACP’s Youth Focused Policing (YFP) Resource Website, to include existing best practices in CEV response and related resources, and the tools and resources propose in this application. IACP will also promote the incorporation of the CEV resource library on the website of our network of partners.

New Publication “Law Enforcement’s Role in Multi-disciplinary Approaches to Protecting Children”
Targeted toward law enforcement, this publication will be adapted from existing material, but enhanced to illustrate the critical role and benefits of law enforcement response to CEV, and will cover the fundamentals of child development and trauma which must form the basis of law enforcement response to CEV. The publication will also describe the benefits for cross-training and co-location approaches, and include examples of how to participate in community collaborative programs of mental health/childhood trauma/child protection specialists to identify and respond to CEV.

Model Policy Creation on Responding to CEV
IACP will explore the creation of a new model policing on responding to CEV or the integration of recommended CEV responses into existing Model Policies of the IACP’s National Law Enforcement Model Policy Center such as: (1) DV; (2) Major Crime Scenes; (3) Criminal Investigation; (4) Use of Force; and (5) Eyewitness Identification.

Model Training Curriculum for Law Enforcement
A training curriculum will be developed based on existing, well established best practices and relevant training resources and targeted to multiple law enforcement audiences (recruitment, patrol, investigation) to enable incorporation into existing training materials at all training points. Topics included will be: child development; developmental responses to trauma and capacities for coping; and the role that adults play in children’s recovery.

E-Learning Training
IACP will develop online training modules built on the training curriculum described above. The content will be integrated into e-modules based on adult learning theory. The Content will include:

  • What constitutes violence exposure? How does exposure impact child development?
  • Developmental response to violence exposure
  • How to identify and interact with CEV
  • Steps law enforcement can take to address issues of CEV independently
  • Steps law enforcement can take in partnership with child protection/mental health
  • Principles of developing multi-disciplinary collaborations
  • Illustrative case examples

New Cross-Platform Application (App)
Capitalizing on existing platforms developed by IACP, the app will provide tools for CEV identification and response, including:

  • Information on child development and trauma
  • A risk factor checklist
  • Tips for interacting with CEV
  • Decision Trees (for law enforcement and community partners to agree on courses of action)
  • Roll call videos

Promising Practices publication(s)
The Promising Practices publication(s) will highlight different types of successful law enforcement approaches to identifying and responding to CEV in communities of various sizes and demographics.

IACP Training Key
IACP and Yale’s NCCEV will develop a Training Key on Law Enforcement Interactions with CEV.

Roll Call Videos
These videos will be developed consisting of existing and new content and targeted to field officers and supervisors on identifying, interacting and responding to CEV.


IACP’s Youth Focused Policing Website
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Child Development-Community Policing at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department
Yale Child Study Center
Safe Start Center


For more information, please contact Program Manager Kelly Burke at burkek@theiacp.org or 800-843-4227 ext. 842.

This project is supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 2012-CV-BX-K056 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s) or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues.

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