Laura Goodman (center) flashes the peace symbol at the first international conference for women police officers ever held in the Middle East. She presented research in the United Arab Emirates.

Crime Fighter

St. Kate's security chief leads international police trainings

By Andy Steiner

Laura Goodman MAOL'11, St. Catherine University's director of public safety, has a message she wants to get out to law-enforcement officers far and wide: When dealing with victims of crime, officers need to listen.

Goodman, a 30-year law enforcement veteran, recently refined this message in the thesis she completed for her Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL). She even created small bookmarks summarizing her findings that she passes out like business cards. They read: "Crime victims deserve & expect you present, listen, follow up, problem solve, lead." She explains that she's seen far too many incidents in which female crime victims end up re-traumatized because investigating officers don't take the time to listen and help them find ways to regain control of their lives.

Lately, Goodman's been taking that message literally worldwide, presenting her research — and her bookmarks —¬†at women police officers' conferences in Abu Dhabi, Bangladesh, and Reno, Nevada.

"It seems simple, but these points really resonate with police officers," she says. "What I'm trying to get across is that when you are working with a victim of a crime, you need to slow down and really hear what that person has to say. You can't teach someone these skills in an hour, but it's a start. My presentations give officers a starting point in communicating with crime victims."

As past president of the International Association of Women Police, Goodman has spoken at global conferences before. But she was struck by the enthusiastic response that this particular presentation drew from attendees.

In Abu Dhabi, for instance, organizers underestimated interest in the conference, the first annual meeting of the Emirati Women Police Association.

"I think they did not believe that the women officers would actually come," she says. "On the first day of training, over 500 women showed up. My presentation drew a standing-room-only group of 200."

Attendees at the all-female conferences were fully engaged in Goodman's talk, asking questions and nodding emphatically in agreement with her points. She felt energized.

"I'm pretty direct in my trainings," says Goodman, who may write a training manual based on her presentation. "The stories I tell about my work are difficult to hear. I felt it was important that my message be uncensored. The women understood what I was talking about. It was really powerful and affirming."

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