On Tuesday, Feb. 6, Traid NOW, the local chapter for the National Organization for Women, hosted its monthly meeting at Parkway UCC, welcoming guest speaker Catrina Thompson, Chief of the Winston-Salem Police Department, and colleagues. Chief Thompson, a 24-year veteran of the WSPD, presents herself as an advocate for domestic violence and mental health issues, and was invited to the meeting to speak on issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking, along with colleagues including Detective Jennifer Dobey, a Salem College alumni and specialist who works mainly with child victims of assault and trafficking. Chief Thompson gave a short presentation on these issues that included warning signs, statistics and additional resources, but spent the bulk of the meeting fielding questions from the group and calling upon her colleagues to help answer questions.
“Domestic violence does not discriminate. It can affect and has affected us all in some way… No one is immune… it’s our job to try to raise that awareness and, more importantly, provide education and training,” said Thompson, emphasizing a department-wide commitment to addressing these issues in Winston-Salem. She told the group that domestic violence training is a part of in-service police department training in Winston-Salem, and that the department works with victims, offenders and the community in general to prevent and educate on violence.
Thompson also underscored the surprising prevalence of human trafficking in the Piedmont Triad area, citing it as a quickly-growing, multibillion-dollar national industry. “Awareness is critical. Human trafficking victims share a loss of freedom. They need to be empowered. It is critical that we let the victims know that they are survivors… we did not save them. They saved themselves,” said Thompson, and concluded her presentation with a moment of pathos, adding, “The stories we want to hear the least are the stories we need to hear the most.”
The additional educational resources provided by Chief Thompson and the WSPD are as follows: National Human Trafficking Hotline, Polaris Project, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the documentary films “Not My Life”, “I am Jane Doe”, “Hot Girls Wanted”, “Tricked”, and the third season of TV show “American Crime”.