Fort Leonard Wood’s Directorate of Emergency Services partnered with the Pulaski County Prosecutor’s Office to host a course Friday and Monday at the Pulaski County Courthouse in Waynesville on the investigation and prosecution of domestic violence cases.
According to DES Military Police Lead Detective Anthony Narug, the course taught victim advocates and members of law enforcement about the varying signs of domestic violence, including newer trends tracked by the state of Missouri.
“It will help the investigators in my office to learn more than the basic training that they already get,” Narug said.
In addition to members of the post Family Advocacy Program, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and MP investigators and patrol officers, members of Missouri civilian agencies such as Waynesville’s Domestic Violence Shelter, the Missouri State Technical Assistance Team and the Pulaski County prosecutor’s office also attended the training.
“We have a whole plethora of different people here,” Narug said. “Usually with domestic-violence cases — and even child-abuse cases — a lot of these agencies come together as a multi-disciplinary team, which allows us to work together. I know my office has a good working relationship with our victim advocates and with our family advocacy people, and we also have a good working relationship with our partners off post.”
About 40 people attended the course, which was presented by Catherine Vannier, a special victims resource prosecutor with the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services, based out of Jefferson City.
According to Vannier, domestic violence left unchecked can quickly lead to murder, with three to four women each day killed by a loved one in this country. She said that a person who’s survived a strangulation has an eight to nine times higher chance of later being murdered.
“It is so important that we respond to these cases because we really can save lives in the work that we do,” said Vannier, who’s been presenting courses on abuse since 2006. “So often, it is the lives that we never know that we’ve saved, because we start at the misdemeanor — the minor level — at the ‘I just need help, something might be wrong’ level. When we get it right, we save lives.”
Vannier said she hopes the practical information provided through her courses aids in improving the capabilities of everyone involved in the enforcement of domestic violence laws.
“I want folks to get some ideas … that they can put immediately to work in terms of how to respond better to survivors of domestic violence, and how they can better investigate and prosecute, so that we can hold folks accountable and in a meaningful way so that we stop the violence before it escalates,” she said.
Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Kevin Hillman attended the course. He said he was impressed with Vannier’s wealth of knowledge and ideas on how to improve the situation.
“Domestic cases are probably the toughest cases we prosecute because not only are the victim and defendant usually related somehow, they’re closely, romantically related, and often times, that means that they have competing emotions and interests,” Hillman said. “So, it’s difficult to try to make sure that we arrive at a just solution that both protects the victim and ensures that we get some sort of justice in the case — sometimes that’s very difficult.”
Narug said he’d previously attended one of Vannier’s courses, and he worked with Pulaski County to help facilitate this here.
“I would like to host more training … using other agencies besides what the Army has because it also opens up to us different ways of thinking about these crimes,” he said. “Instead of looking at this only through the ways the Army has taught — which is by no means wrong — it just gives us more tools for our toolbox to use. It also allows my officers, my investigators, even all the other people in the room to network with other people so that we can all work together.”