The University community is invited to a campus forum on Monday, March 4, to learn about Universitywide diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) efforts. Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Mary Grace A. Almandrez will provide key updates about DEIA…
5 Questions With Officer Jessica Zaccari During Dating and Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Officer Jessica Zaccari joined the Department of Public Safety (DPS) as a campus peace officer in 2018. Given Officer Zaccari’s background and with October being Dating and Domestic Violence Awareness Month we thought it would be a perfect time to sit down with her and chat about what she does and the resources that are available to our campus community members who experience dating or domestic violence.
01Where did you work prior to becoming an officer with DPS?
I worked at a victim’s advocacy center where I provided direct services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and other crimes. Most of my time was dedicated to our emergency shelter and community outreach. What I loved most about working for such a great organization is that they take a comprehensive, holistic approach to supporting victims.
02How do you take your previous experiences and apply them to the work you do now in law enforcement?
I have taken the same trauma-informed practices and applied them to my job now as a law enforcement officer. Recognizing trauma has been essential because it helps me better understand what a victim might be experiencing, and how to better assist them. I have also developed de-escalation skills that can be useful to anyone who may be experiencing a crisis.
Most importantly, my decision to seek a career in law enforcement was reaffirmed by my work in advocacy. I wholeheartedly believe that every single person has a basic human right to be safe and live a life free from violence. This belief is the driving force for me when I am serving the Syracuse University community.
03How does DPS help those who are impacted by interpersonal violence?
DPS officers understand that it takes immense courage for victims of interpersonal violence to report to law enforcement. We respond swiftly and begin the investigative process once a report has been made. Depending on the circumstances of each call, officers may discuss safety strategies such as orders of protection. Officers will also provide information on the crime victim rights that are protected by New York State. In addition, all DPS members have recently received multiple in-service training on trauma-informed practices. I work alongside many amazing officers on patrol who use these practices and work tirelessly to ensure our campus is safe.
04What departments do you partner with on campus to assist survivors and victims of interpersonal violence?
Our campus partners are so important because we want to ensure survivors are receiving support in every way possible. We work closely with the Barnes Center’s Sexual and Relationship Violence Response (SRVR) team. The team consists of staff therapists who are trained and have experience supporting survivors of sexual and relationship violence.
05Can you share details about the Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) program that you help teach on campus?
R.A.D is a nationally recognized self-defense course for women. It is a comprehensive course that begins with awareness, prevention, risk reduction and risk avoidance, and progresses on to the basics of hands-on defense training.
Based on the statistics, we know that interpersonal violence is very prevalent among college-aged students. I really hope we get a good turnout for this upcoming course so we can continue spreading awareness on this subject and also empower women in our community.
To learn more about R.A.D. and register for the spring semester session, visit the DPS website.
For more information on resources, reporting and programs, visit the Sexual and Relationship Violence Resources website.