Men You Could Trust in Carbon County


I stay somewhat current with the news in Utah, and yesterday there was a terrific article about goings-on in Carbon County. Longer than the typical article, it was an in-depth look at a fresh approach towards the issue of domestic violence by detectives in the police force there (along with the county prosecutor and the county victim advocate). Well, actually, it galls to call it a "fresh" approach: it's an approach that should be common sense, but instead is used too infrequently. The approach? Genuinely caring about the victim.

At the heart of what they do is engage with the trauma the victim has experienced, and try to bring her (almost always her) out to the other side, where they can put their lives back together. Prosecution of the perpetrator is actually a secondary issues. According to the article, "Rather than pursuing their assailants, what [detectives Hendricks] and Henrie focus on is helping victims process their trauma, rebuild their lives and then — only then — if the victim wants to go forward, gather the necessary evidence to file charges. The program can involve meeting with a survivor over weeks, months or sometimes even years, to listen to them as they try to articulate what happened, build trust and connect with them." It is almost hard for me to wrap my mind around this type of police commitment to a domestic violence victim who is a woman. Children, maybe, but adult women? Male policemen are not noted for their patience or their sympathy towards them. 

Breathtaking for me was the degree of understanding involved: "Hendricks told [one victim] he knew what had gone through her mind as [her boyfriend] attacked her. There was a moment, he continued, as if the world suddenly stopped. She stared at him. “That’s that momentary feeling of paralysis, indecision. Your brain’s ability to process normal logical thoughts ceases. You can’t make your arms move, you literally forget how to breathe." Dumbfounded, she said, “How do you know?” “That’s how normal people respond to trauma,” he told her. As they talked over an hour or so, color came back to her features, her slurred pronunciation became concise, her crumpled body posture ramrod straight. Out of nowhere, she remembered [details of the attack needed for prosecution]. “You know, this is really weird, but I’m kind of excited to do this.” Later she added, smiling, “I haven’t felt this good in years.”

More--emphases mine:

"There is another way, Hendricks and Henrie said. “We teach officers this on a daily basis,” Hendricks said. “If I am meeting with a domestic violence and sexual assault victim and my goal is to obtain information of the crime, then I’m doing harm. But if the goal is to create a human connection prior to details, then we’re doing a pretty good thing. It is that simple.”

"Carbon County Sheriff Jeff Wood described the program as “confidence building. It basically gives the victim or witness the confidence to step up and face their perpetrator in court with the security of knowing law enforcement has their back.” He later phrased it in more empathetic terms. “Everybody’s treated like everyone has a mother that loves them somewhere.”

With another victim, a 16 year old girl, the same approach was taken:

"When Hendricks and Henrie visited Brown for the first time, she was in a secure juvenile facility in Salt Lake City, with her therapist in attendance. She sat cross-legged on a chair with her back to them. Instead of questions, the cops brought pizza, soda and candy. They talked to the back of her head. “They didn’t push me into anything,” Brown said. Eventually she turned around. “The first time we talked, they just wanted to hang out with me and get to know me a little bit,” she said.

"The power of a simple, purposeful human connection astonished Henrie. “It became apparent that we were the only men in her life that had not tried to take advantage of her.” By fall 2021, nine men, including her stepfather who’d bring her to interviews with the detectives, had been investigated for assaulting her, prosecuted and locked up."

I am just floored by the power of a good man, by the amazing things his very existence catalyzes. Maybe the horrors of earth life are worth it to God just to identify which of His sons are men HIs daughters can trust. Unfortunately, from what I've seen of life, there are not many. But those that exist are precious indeed.

Consider, in contrast, the scandals playing out in the Metropolitan Police of the city of London in the UK. A police officer kidnapped, raped, and strangled Sarah Everard. His peers on the force had nicknamed him "the Rapist," but no one said a thing because misogyny was rife in the force. An investigation found that many officers were guilty of sexual misconduct: pertinent articles can be found here and here and here. As one article states, "To come forward as a victim of sexual violence takes tremendous courage. Yet how would you feel stepping into a station where you know the officers treat rape as a kind of sick joke, brag about raping their colleagues and beating their wives – and defend it all as ‘banter’? You would feel like you could not trust the police to investigate the crime you suffered. Victims must have absolute confidence in the police to treat them seriously and sympathetically – or they will not come forward at all."

Of course, this phenomenon is not confined to the UK. It is worldwide. In the WomanStats Database you can find accounts of women who were raped by police when they tried to report a rape; women who were laughed at when reporting domestic violence to the authorities; women who were simply never believed; women who were beaten to within an inch of their lives and their perpetrator received 2 months in prison. ProPublica published a shocking story showing that every cop in one area in Alaska had been previously convicted of domestic violence. For most women, the police department is a boys' club where the interests of the 'boys' outweigh the interests of women and girls.

But there is a better way, and apparently Carbon County is moving towards it. As Elder D. Todd Christofferson once said, "In large measure, true manhood is defined in our relationship to women . . . We must be men that women can trust.” Amen, amen, amen. Miracles abound when men choose to be people that women can trust.

Such trust must be present not only at the local level, but at higher levels as well. Consider the article mentioned this fact in a rather offhand way, but it is extremely important (emphases mine):

"Each year the Bureau of Criminal Identification assembles a report on crime in Utah. While there is a section dedicated to analysis of domestic violence, the report notes that “There is not a domestic violence offense” in the national reporting guidelines. Trying to get rural domestic violence statistics is equally challenging. A request for data on rural Utah domestic violence incidents to the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition was forwarded to the state, which historically has maintained domestic violence statistics. However Ned Searle, director of the Office on Domestic and Sexual Violence at the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, noted that, “To my knowledge due to lack of funding, CCJJ does not have any current data on domestic violence.” Nine years before, he continued, he would contact agencies involved in domestic violence for information, a relationship that others, he added, were attempting to restart for 2022."

Sure sounds to me that not only do we need more men like Hendricks and Henries on the front lines, but we also need the male-dominated Utah legislature to earmark money especially for data collection on the pervasive and critically important crime of domestic violence in the state of Utah. And the same must happen at the federal level to ensure domestic violence gets into those national reporting guidelines. Where are those who will stand up to ensure this happens? Not later, but now?

In the meantime, we can celebrate Carbon County, which has a few men that women can trust. I pray these men are as trustworthy in their private lives as they are in their professional lives.