URBANA, Ill. – The University of Illinois Police Department is making the reporting of sensitive crimes a bit easier for victims with the use of a new “soft interview room.”
A soft interview room differs from the traditional style of police interview room by softening the environment with comfortable chairs, relaxing wall decorations and softer lighting. That is in contrast to the typical interview room that contains only a couple basic chairs and a small table.
“Not exactly like home, but a lot less sterile than the typical interview room,” said Sgt. Gene Moore, a UIPD detective and member of the Special Victims Unit. The goal is to make reporting more comfortable for victims of traumatic crimes who will be asked to share intimate details of those crimes with police detectives conducting an investigation.
“Trauma is tough on anybody, but for survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence, it’s especially tough,” Moore said. “We want to really try to make it a little more comfortable, a little more conducive to telling their story."
The new interview room is part of a department remodel that has been underway for about a year. It complements UIPD’s Special Victims Unit, which is a group of detectives and officers who are specially trained in trauma-informed interviewing techniques. Those techniques are used to interview victims of sexual assault or domestic violence in a way that allows detectives to gather the information they need without introducing any additional psychological trauma to victims.
“It’s important to make them feel like somebody’s listening to them and somebody cares and they are taking them seriously,” Moore said. “There’s somebody that actually knows the process, somebody that’s going to be there to help them.
Crimes like sexual assault and domestic violence are of significant concern on college campuses across the country, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is no exception. While it is always a survivor’s decision to report a crime, reporting is one of the best ways to hold offenders accountable to ensure they do not commit additional crimes.
“The SVU members and the soft interview room, all the training we go through hopefully helps make it a little easier on them to go through the process,” Moore said. “It’s tough as it is, so we want to take a little bit of the edge off.”
A full list of reporting options and sexual misconduct resources is available at wecare.illinois.edu.