First responders, others get detailed training on diffusing domestic violence
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Facilitator Ellis Amdur addresses a roomful of law and safety employees during a domestic violence crisis intervention seminar on Tuesday. —Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News ­

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — North Olympic Peninsula first responders have a better idea of how to diffuse potentially volatile domestic-violence situations following specialized training this week.

“Our goal is to always help the victim get away from the abuser,” said Port Townsend Police Officer Patrick Fudally.

“We are learning there are steps that any of us can take along the way, and for us to know what we can do to help through the next step.”

Facilitator Ellis Amdur conducted identical eight-hour sessions for personnel from eight public safety agencies at the Northwest Maritime Center on Monday and Tuesday.

About 40 people attended each crisis-prevention session.

Training was given twice to allow different shifts to attend while maintaining an on-duty staff, according to Port Townsend Police Department spokesman Officer Luke Bogues.

Attendees came from the Port Townsend Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Sequim Police Department, Jeff­Co 9-1-1 communications, Port Townsend city prosecutor, Jefferson County District Court and Probation, East Jefferson Fire-Rescue, Jefferson Healthcare, Dove House and Jefferson County Advocacy Services.

In addition to patrol personnel, the audience included Jefferson County District Court Judge Jill Landes and support personnel from all of the agencies because victims interact with many levels of law enforcement.

“It's good for us to have a better idea of what people are going through when they come into the police station,” said Port Townsend Police Clerk April Owen.

“This is giving us a perspective in dealing with people. How we treat them when they come in can make a difference.”

“We deal with mentally ill people very frequently in our jobs, and it's a good thing to have updated training,” said Sheriff's Capt. Mike Stringer.

“[Amdur] is giving us different tools that we can use.”

Amdur said it is important for an officer to understand the motivation of the victim or the perpetrator, assigning behavior categories such as “control freaks” and “drama queens.”

He also cautioned against manipulation, which he said is most skillfully done when the manipulated person is not aware of the process.

He also advised officers to attempt an understanding of the manipulator's motivation “whether they are manipulating us because they are in crisis themselves or whether they are just trying to ruin our day.”

Amdur worked from a 30-page document and took the entire day to elaborate on each of the points contained.

Landes said the seminar provided a “refresher course,” as she is experienced in domestic-violence issues.

“This isn't Domestic Violence 101,” the judge said.

“A lot of the people here have already dealt with these issues.

“It gives the people here a deeper understanding of the personality types involved in these situations and how to handle them, which leads to better investigations.”

Each session cost $1,750, split between the Port Townsend Police Department and the Washington Cities Insurance Authority.

This is a preventive expense, Bogues said, as proper training can diffuse situations that lead to lawsuits.

While he tailors his presentation to different groups, Amdur said, this region faces the same domestic-violence issues as any other locale.

“I've had officers email me seven years after a class telling me that they tried a strategy I suggested, and it worked,” he said.

“I'm not changing the world. My job is to provide an effective retraining so investigators can follow up — and people will stay safe.”

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 03. 2013 6:28PM
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