George Banville, the Commissioner of the Village of Kings Point Police Department, is trying to get the word out to midshipmen at the Academy about a Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment (“SASH”) resource the Village is making available to its residents, including all midshipmen at the Academy. In a press release, the police department described this “Seek, then Speak” program:
Kings Point Police Department and The Safe Center are offering a new tool called Seek Then Speak to help more sexual assault victims engage with local recovery and reporting resources.
Kings Point Police Department intends to stop the cycle of silence caused by the traditional barriers of shame and fear that keep victims of sexual assault from getting help. Many confide in a friend or family member, but most miss the important step of engaging with local recovery and reporting options.
An interesting aspect of this program is that the victim initially communicates with artificial intelligence — there is no person on the other end. As the press release explains,
A survivor can engage with Seek Then Speak through a multilingual speech-enabled system, mobile app, or an interactive web portal. No matter how they connect, they experience a gradual and supportive dialogue as this intelligent system helps them understand what happened and explore their options, privately and securely. If a victim desires to engage with local victim services and/or law enforcement, local responders are notified electronically.
“This gives victims a safe and flexible way to learn and take action,” said Anthony Zenkus, director of education at The Safe Center. “We hope that those victims who are more comfortable getting information before speaking with a live person will connect with us through Seek Then Speak for help.”
You can find the full press release here.
Bravo zulu to Commissioner Banville and his Department for recognizing this need and reaching out to the USMMA community to offer midshipmen an alternative means of seeking help following a SASH incident. It is much needed — for the reasons discussed here.