Iowa City Police’s ‘Soft Interview Room’ provides comfortable environment for trauma victims

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 6:29 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) -Iowa City Police needed a more comfortable setting to talk to traumatized victims, like with children or in sexual assault cases. They came up with a soft space interview room.

Officers have used it every day since it opened last summer. Officers admit the police station can seem cold and scary. This room lets police show crime victims a needed softer side.

Domestic Violence Detective Zachary Murguia says he uses this room to just chat with people.

“Whenever I talk to victims in a police department, this is where it would be,” Murguia said.

It gives a perception that they’re not inside a police department.

“So I think historically, that you know if you were to come into a police department and make a report, there would be a straight back office chair and a steel desk in the front of the room,” Murguia said. “Not an inviting environment.”

This room is the opposite. It has couches, paintings, a TV, brochures, and a noise machine that gives a calming effect.

“When it comes to asking someone to come to the police department and make a report,” Murguia said. “It’s asking a lot. It’s asking someone to disclose that to someone they barely. This room affords us the opportunity to make it a little bit more comfortable.”

“I’ve talked to people in this space,” added Ann Thompson, Victim Services Coordinator with Iowa City Police Department. “They may come in at an escalated level, but I can see it drop.”

It’s not just for victims. Stressed out police officers also use the room.

“They can come in here shut the door,” said Captain Denise Brotherton. “Just have a comfortable chair to sit in and just some space.”

Police have weighted blankets and teddy bears for people to use when the pandemic starts to get better.

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