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NL police hosts Albanian National Police for sex crimes training

One of the things victims of sex crimes takeaway from getting involved in an unhealthy relationship is how difficult it is to escape.

The process alone can be a daunting task for many to endure, let alone survive.

According to a 2016 National Crime Victimization Survey, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that there were 1.1 million violent victimizations committed by a family member or intimate partner and 2.2 million victimizations committed by a stranger.

What’s more is sexual violence is primarily difficult to measure. Crimes of this type often go unreported for various reasons.

The New Lenox Police Department, joined by the United States Department of State, hosted six law enforcement officials and a translator from Albania for sex crimes investigations training last month.

Collaborating enabled the Village to serve as the host to international guests, as well as foster teamwork and establish partnerships.

“I would consider it an honor and a privilege,” New Lenox Police Commander Hilary Davis said. We have always believed in a collaborative effort when it comes to law enforcement, and there’s no greater collaboration when you can involve an international component.”

The training to representatives from Albanian National Police was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs/International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program. It covered a number of focus areas, including the initial reporting of a sex crime and what should occur with that, interviewing the victim, getting and giving the right information for a victim, and interviewing and investigating for the offender. Similar-type trainings are held all across the nation.

“One of the things that we are always looking to do is improve the way that we deliver our police services, and I think when you broaden your horizon and broaden your scope internationally, you see how things can be done in other countries,” Davis said. “There were many examples given over the course of the week of how they do things in Albania, that are different than how we do them. It’s always good to have a different perspective on how things could be done.”

Josif Shtembari, crimes director in the Public Security Department in the General Directorate of Albanian State Police, agreed.

“This experience is valuable and will be very great benefit to the Albanian State Police,” he said. “The Albanian State Police is always trying to work toward meeting all of the international standards that are required in the sex crimes investigations and all kinds of investigations. With regard to the investigation of sexual crimes, we are going to benefit a lot from this training because of the positive experiences that will be shared with from American police from different places in the United States, as well as from the law enforcement agencies around Chicago. Particularly, the element that is probably missing in the way the Albanian State Police handles or investigates these crimes is the focus on the victim rather than on the details of the investigation.”

One of the things New Lenox Police does is it incorporates a multi-disciplinary approach to sex crimes investigations.

“Our officers already are working in concert with the Guardian Angel Community Services, out of Joliet, and Silver Cross Hospital, here, in town,” Davis said.

Among other differences of note between sex crimes investigations conducted by New Lenox Police and the Albanian National Police is the timetable allotted to examine a case.

“The deadlines for investigations are stipulated in the criminal procedure code,” Shtembari said. “It’s a three-month deadline that if there is [a] need, [it] may be extended by another three months, and that’s by order of the general prosecutor, or your attorney general of the U.S.”

Davis did not put a timetable on it, however.

“It depends on the facts of the case,” she said. “It’s certainly an individual thing, based on what the report of a sex act is. Sometimes it can take months, and other times it can be days.”

There are a number of similarities in the way that sex crimes are investigated between New Lenox Police and Albanian National Police, as well.

“We tend to at least make the effort to adhere to the same principles,” Shtembari said.

Shtembari hopes to find ways to put more theory into practice upon returning to Albania.

“Very often, where we come from, sexual crimes are committed where [there is very little evidence to collect,]” he said. “You can’t really access, or identify, where the crime scene was. It’s difficult to collect the evidence at the right place time, at the right time, and therefore that affects the quality of the investigation. Our difficulty is related to the conditions in our country that you probably do not face, here, in the United States, in Chicago, or in New Lenox because of the scientific approaches used, as well as the different resources. They probably enable better investigation of the crimes that we are not able to demonstrate currently.”

When asked if New Lenox Police has seen its share of challenges in sex crimes investigations, Davis acknowledged that there is always room to improve and said officers are well-equipped to help a victim.

The New Lenox Police Department was selected to serve as a host site for sex crimes investigations training for several reasons, one being that the Village is considered by many a safe community.

“One of the questions that [Police] Major [Josif] Shtembari’s crew had for me prior to coming was whether or not the Albanians would be safe or not while they were here,” Davis recalled. “That was a major concern. Where they’re from, there is always the threat of something occurring. I was very pleased and happy to say that New Lenox is a safe community.”

The New Lenox Police Department prides itself on having officers who work everyday to make the Village a safe place.

Law enforcement officials on hand for training also included representatives from Casper, Wyoming; Denver; and the Yankton Sioux Tribe.

“These are partnerships and collaborations that will, I think, sustain for many years to come,” Davis said.

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