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Multidisciplinary Team Approach To Serving American Indian/Alaska Native Victims of Sexual Assault Transcript

RAE ANN RED OWL, ATTORNEY, OGLALA SIOUX TRIBE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: In order to improve communications with victim services and the AG's office and IHS, we need to have law enforcement at the table every time they meet. And I can go, but I'm not boots on the ground, you guys are. To begin a collaboration, you really need to reach out to all the agencies that are going to be involved in the response, and for the Sexual Assault Response Team, you're looking at not only law enforcement, you're looking at medical, you're looking at the justice system, you're looking at victim's assistance. Whatever resources that could be utilized in terms of helping a victim, I think those are who you need to reach out to and invite them to come and collaborate.

TATEWIN MEANS, ATTORNEY GENERAL, OGLALA SIOUX TRIBE: Any time you're not operating in silos, that's better for everybody because you have more information. That communication and collaboration leads to more effective results for the prosecution side, most definitely, but also for the victim because it's victim-sensitive.

RAE ANN RED OWL: Just gaining enough information to continue on with your investigation, but at the same time not doing like a full—

CLAYTON TEN FINGERS, ACTING CAPTAIN, OGLALA SIOUX POLICE DEPARTMENT: Full detailed, yeah.

RAE ANN RED OWL: Yeah.

TATEWIN MEANS: And to ensure safety.

RAE ANN RED OWL: And ensure, yeah.

TATEWIN MEANS: Our SART, the driving force is tribal—so, a lot of the tribal folks and the people that are here on the reservation that ensure that the work of the SART continues. What's important for us tribally is, okay, so people expect an arrest, right? That's why they're calling. But if we don't have anything because the feds... Why I prefer that is because we can keep it very victim-centered. We have more control over the dynamics of the group and how we want to proceed.

RAE ANN RED OWL: Maybe it's a good idea just to get all the groups together and to go over their protocols again too, just to see where—how things are being implemented.

TATEWIN MEANS: Let's bring them. I'll put it on... And one specific step we took here tribally and locally was to implement a sexual assault victim response protocol, and that involved each entity of our criminal justice system to change their internal policies regarding how they respond to sexual assault disclosures. And it's a non-arrest policy. Say a law enforcement officer responds to a call that's non-sexual assault-related and an individual there discloses sexual assaults. If they were going to be arrested for other charges—non-related charges—those would be delayed. The priority for that victim would not be detention, it would be access to health care, resources, safety, right? So that policy was implemented and we had buy-in and participation from all of our partners here tribally.

RAE ANN RED OWL: I think if we can be victim-oriented in our services—say, like, with the no-arrest policy—I think that that would be the biggest thing, because a lot of people don't want to come forward. How an officer responds initially makes a difference as to whether or not a person's gonna feel comfortable enough to want to get that sexual assault kit done.

DARRELL ROBINSON, SPECIAL AGENT, BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, OFFICE OF JUSTICE SERVICES, PINE RIDGE AGENCY: Law enforcement needs to understand that it's not easy for this victim to talk about what she's gone through. They need to realize it may take some time for her to disclose this information.

CLAYTON TEN FINGERS: The value of working in coordination with other agencies, it keeps us on the same page. We're the first responders, so it's good for us to know what is needed and how to handle that scene.

DIANE BOHN, DIRECTOR, CASS LAKE IHS SEXUAL ASSAULT AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PREVENTION INITIATIVE: When I started doing this work I thought I understood the role of law enforcement and prosecution, but, really, when we sat down together, I found that there were pieces that I really was unaware of. I think coming together as a multidisciplinary group, you get to know each other's roles and responsibilities, and also how we work together.

MISTY HUNTER, RN, IHS FOUR DIRECTIONS CLINIC: But, yeah, there are certain things that were happening that I wanted to come bring to the SART—

ARLANA BETTELYOUN, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, OGLALA CHILDREN'S JUSTICE CENTER: Yeah.

MISTY HUNTER: ...to the SART meeting. So then Tati...

ARLANA BETTELYOUN: I think one of the biggest challenges of getting people together at the table all at once is time, because on our reservation we are so big and resources are so limited. The other day they said there was only 11, um...

LARRY SWALLEY, INVESTIGATOR/CASE MANAGER, OGLALA LAKOTA CHILDREN'S CENTER: For the whole reservation.

ARLANA BETTELYOUN: ...covering that certain time.

MISTY HUNTER: I wish we could get somebody at the table.

ARLANA BETTELYOUN: I do too.

LARRY SWALLEY: Consistently.

ARLANA BETTELYOUN: But I think if we go to them, set that up...

GWENYTHA PARRISH, EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT CLINICAL/FORENSIC NURSE, TUBA CITY REGIONAL HEALTHCARE CORPORATION: You're always gonna lack that one group that is difficult to draw to the table, but I think if everybody who is involved has an understanding of what their role is in the SART, I believe that kind of provides them that draw-in.

TATEWIN MEANS: We have to have some meaningful participation from our federal partners in order for us to move forward.

DAVID ADAMS, TRIBAL LIAISON AND ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, DISTRICT OF MEXICO: You cannot go out into the community enough, because the more you do it, the more you engage new personnel that can kind of be involved in responding to what is obviously a serious issue around the country. And you also gain partners that may have a different level of expertise in an area that you didn't know existed. And so you kind of build these new relationships throughout the process, which is really, really helpful.

ARLENE O'BRIEN, TOHONO O'ODHAM NATION, SOUTHWEST CENTER FOR LAW AND POLICY: I think it's important to realize that people have to come together. There's no one solution, and people have to work together to what works within each individual community.