Members of Murphy Police Department Attended CCAW
(From left) Murphy Police Officer Fred Mancias, Detective Sarah Ashmore and Volunteer Victim Advocate Angela Thomas at the Conference on Crimes Against Women (CCAW).
Photo provided by MPD.
Officer Fred Mancias, Detective Sarah Ashmore and Volunteer Victim Advocate Angela Thomas from the Murphy Police Department and Victim Advocate Angie McIntosh from the Wylie Police Department were selected as scholarship recipients to attend the 14th annual Conference on Crimes Against Women (CCAW) held Apr. 8 – 11 in Dallas. This national conference pertained to training and best practices regarding the identification, investigation and prosecution of all types of violent crimes against women- including domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, stalking and campus safety.
Det. Ashmore was hired by Murphy PD nine years ago. For the last 3.5 years, she has served as an investigator. She said her primary case load is crimes against persons. She said that in Murphy she deals with violent crimes against women weekly, sometimes multiple times a week. She said, “The most common crime against women in Murphy is domestic abuse.”
During the conference, attendees were able to choose from over 200 workshops to attend. Ashmore and Mancias both attended a workshop titled, “The 10 Commandments of Family Violence”. Through this workshop, they were taught how family dynamics and trauma affect victims’ ability to recall the abusive event. They also learned new ways to question victims without re-traumatizing them.
Ashmore said what she learned while doing a case study, “Kenny and Kevin: Internet Rape”, she is applying to a case she is currently working on involving a stalker in Murphy. She said information regarding the technology used in the case study has been specifically useful in helping with the Murphy case.
There have been two intimate partner homicides in Murphy in the last five years. Ashmore attended a pertinent workshop titled, “Intimate Partner Homicide: Solving Cold Cases With an Evidence-Based Interview Strategy”.
The workshop titled “Victim Blaming and Retaliation: The Second Rape” gave attendees a deeper understanding of the dynamics of sexual assault and rape. Ashmore said, “We need to be careful not to blame victims, this is a challenge we have in society.”
Ashmore said, “There are unique considerations we need to have when dealing with Muslim victims.” She attended the workshop titled, “Islam, Domestic Violence & Unique Considerations when dealing with Muslim Victims”. This workshop was taught by the president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. Ashmore said, “We have a high concentration of people of the Islamic faith in Murphy. We discussed misconceptions of the faith and how to include faith when talking to victims. The focus was on health and wellness. We also talked about the importance of getting involved in the community before responding to situations so that they have a better trust in the police department.”
Ofc. Manicas feels that his participation at this conference will benefit MPD and the community in that the importance of listening to victims was reiterated to him. He said, “I was taught to listen and take good notes, gather evidence (i.e. photos) and get statements from witnesses when possible. I will then turn this information over to Det. Ashmore.” He attended an advocate session which was put on by Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support. The session was from the victim’s point of view. He felt that what he learned there is similar to cases he has had in Murphy. He also attended a case study titled, “Operation HELLBENDER:A Look Into the Domestic Sex Trade in North America” which he feels will heighten his awareness of characteristics of young ladies who are lured away to this lifestyle. Mancias has been a Murphy police officer for 16 years and will be the Student Resource Officer at McMillen High School for the next five years starting in the 2019 – 20 school year. Conversations he had with advocates from around the world gave him a different perspective on crimes against women. Cases involving juveniles will be given to Det. Ashmore and most are handled by the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC).
Ashmore said she receives phone calls at all times of the day regarding domestic violence in Murphy. She said those who attended the workshop will be able to share the knowledge they gained at the conference with other Murphy officers. She added, “We can evaluate our processes and see if we are where we should be. We can always improve.”
Advice Mancias and Ashmore give to people who suspect a woman or girl is a victim of violent crimes is to call the police, be willing to listen and be a part of the solution. Ashmore said that victims have told her that they reached out to their neighbors for help, but the neighbor didn’t want to get involved. She said, “There are so many resources. The neighbor can call the Murphy police department and they will be given a list of resources to give to the victim. Do not turn a blind eye. The most dangerous time for the victim is the day they walk out the door. Don’t blame them for staying. In their mind, it’s safer to stay because they know what to expect.”
Ashmore said becoming an investigator was always one of her goals because, “I have a soft spot in my heart for them (victims). I have a chance to make a difference in someone’s life.” She said victims have come back to her to thank her. Some say, “I didn’t listen to what you said then, but I heard what you said.” She shared a few successes she has experienced in Murphy. A teenager was abused by her father. He threatened to kill her and bury her in their backyard because the girl was going against their culture and striving to just be an average American teenager. MPD was able to get her out of the situation and into a shelter. The teen went from being terrified and in fear for her life to currently being a teacher’s assistant at Purdue University and will soon graduate with a masters in social work. Another Murphy victim had been mentally and physically abused and at one point was strangled. Ashmore said, “I talked to her and held her hand through a lot of it.” She has since gotten out of the relationship and is a thriving, outgoing successful person who Ashmore sees from time to time. The final example Ashmore provided involved a woman who, “fought me tooth and nail.” She had a back and forth situation and even recanted information she had given before the trial regarding her abuser. Ashmore said, “I knew she wasn’t ready at that time. I had to keep encouraging her. She came back to me and said, ‘I’m sorry I put you through that.’ No one owes me an apology. We need to meet the victim where they are. Some might not be ready to leave, but we need to keep them safe in the meantime.”
Additional workshops they attended are: Peep Behind the Curtain: Porn and It’s Impact on Intimate Partner Violence; The Kavanaugh Effect; Case Study – A Love Triangle Conspiracy Murder: Utilizing Technology & Strategy to Solve and Prosecute a Domestic Murder; Not Just Feeling Words: How Victim Services Can Lead to Success in Law Enforcement; Justice for All: Culturally Sensitive Response to Minority Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexually Deviant Killers.