Belton Police Department unveils ‘soft’ interview room
By Raymore Journal staff
In an effort to make victims and witnesses more comfortable, the Belton Police Department is launching what it calls its new “soft” interview room.
Recently, the Belton Police Victim Advocate Unit unveiled its new “soft” interview room and announced the appointment of a dedicated sex crimes / domestic violence detective. The additions to the Belton Police Department is the work of Victim Advocate Crystal Beal.
What is a soft interview room?
You might be familiar with normal interview rooms typically seen in crime shows. Blinding, fluorescent lights. Off-white walls. Metal chairs. One-way mirror. It’s suitable for a rape or murder suspect.
But what about the victims and witnesses brought in for questioning? Do they deserve the same harsh interview conditions? Of course not.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an American is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds, which is nearly 500,000 victims each year. Last year in Belton alone there were about 50 reports of rape or sexual assault. There were also more than 200 reports of domestic violence. Those numbers are not looking to improve this year.
To get those numbers down and the number of arrests up, Beal is addressing the victims and survivors of violent crimes. She is making sure they are comfortable enough to talk with law enforcement, and she’s starting at the interview room.
In what is reminiscent of an episode of Extreme Makover, Beal completely transformed one of the several interview rooms at the Belton Police Department. According to the department, Beal recognized the need for a more welcoming environment where victims and witnesses would feel safe in sharing vital information with its investigators. Working with community stakeholders, Beal transformed a stark interview room into a place where critical information can be shared more freely.
Beal focuses on seven elements when creating the soft interview room:
- Privacy: located in a secure location with light traffic; one-way mirror hidden by curtain.
- Color: sea salt grey was chosen for the walls based on research indicating blues/greens are soft and comforting. Blue wall art, pillows and lamps compliment the walls.
- Furniture: Couch and two armless chairs (allows officers with utility belts to easily get in and out).
- Lighting: soft vs. harsh.
- Blankets: temperature and psychological comfort
- Accessories: fidget toys, stress relievers, etc.
- Carpet for more comfort.
The Belton Police Victim Advocate Unit was created in the mid-1990s. Advocates provide crisis intervention, court/hospital advocacy, assistance navigating criminal justice system, referrals to other resources, etc. Last year, Belton Police Chief Scott Lyons saw the need to expand the grant to include a sex crimes / domestic violence detective. That grant was approved, and Officer LaShaya Folvarcik was promoted to the position.