Investigating a case of sexual assault requires specific interview techniques, but many officers never receive such training.
“For almost the first decade of my law enforcement career, I didn’t receive training in trauma or how anxiety and stress affects memory. In short, I was never taught how to interview victims,” said Lori Heitman, a former Supervisory Special Agent with The United States Army Criminal Investigation Command. “Law enforcement are traditionally trained to interview suspects, so when they interview victims, through no malice, they typically apply the same techniques because that’s what they know.”
Heitman is currently the director of programming at Certified FETI, which teaches officers a science-based methodology for conducting effective victim interviews. FETI, which stands for Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview, focuses on enhancing the quality and quantity of information obtained from victims who have undergone highly stressful or traumatic experiences.